The Bloody Summer of 1862 changed the face of the War, as both sides realized the conflict would be far longer than anticipated.
Following Pope's dismal failure at 2nd Manassas, General McClellan was once again placed in command of the Army of the Potomac. As Lee moved boldly into Maryland, McClellan maneuvered to keep his army between the Army of Northern Virginia and Washington. His big break came when a copy of Lee's orders for the campaign fell into his possession.
They revealed how divided and vulnerable Lee's army was setting the stage for a series of battle that would turn Maryland's Landscape red.
HEADQUARTERS ALEXANDRIA AND LEESBURG ROAD,
Near Dranesville, September 3, 1862.
His Excellency President DAVIS,
Mr. PRESIDENT: The present seems to be the most propitious time since the commencement of the war for the Confederate Army to enter Maryland. The two grand armies of the United States that have been operating in Virginia, though now united, are much weakened and demoralized. Their new levies, of which I understand 60,000 men have already been posted in Washington, are not yet organized, and will take some time to prepare for the field. If it is ever desired to give material aid to Maryland and afford her an opportunity of throwing off the oppression to which she is now subject, this would seem the most favorable.
After the enemy had disappeared from the vicinity of Fairfax Court House, and taken the road to Alexandria and Washington, I did not think it would be advantageous to follow him farther. I had no intention of attacking him in his fortifications, and am not prepared to invest them. If I possessed the necessary munitions, I should be unable to supply provisions for the troops. I therefore determined, while threatening the approaches to Washington, to draw the troops into Loudoun, where forage and some provisions can be obtained, menace their possession of the Shenandoah Valley, and, if found practicable, to cross into Maryland. The purpose, if discovered, will have the effect of carrying the enemy north of the Potomac, and, if prevented, will not result in much evil.
The army is not properly equipped for an invasion of an enemy's territory. It lacks much of the material of war, is feeble in transportation, the animals being much reduced, and the men are poorly provided with clothes, and in thousands of instances are destitute of shoes. Still, we cannot afford to be idle, and though weaker than our opponents in men and military equipments, must endeavor to harass if we cannot destroy them. I am aware that the movement is attended with much risk, yet I do not consider success impossible, and shall endeavor to guard it from loss. As long as the army of the enemy are employed on this frontier I have no fears for the safety of Richmond, yet I earnestly recommend that advantage be taken of this period of comparative safety to place its defense, both by land and water, in the most perfect condition. A respectable force can be collected to defend its approaches by land, and the steamer Richmond, I hope, is now ready to clear the river of hostile vessels.
Should General Bragg find it impracticable to operate to advantage on his present frontier, his army, after leaving sufficient garrisons, could be advantageously employed in opposing the overwhelming numbers which it seems to be the intention of the enemy now to concentrate in Virginia.
I have already been told by prisoners that some of Buell's cavalry have been joined to General Pope's army, and have reason to believe that the whole of McClellan's, the larger portion of Burnside's and Cox's, and a portion of Hunter's, are united to it.
What occasions me most concern is the fear of getting out of ammunition. I beg you will instruct the Ordnance Department to spare no pains in manufacturing a sufficient amount of the best kind, and to be particular, in preparing that for the artillery, to provide three times as much of the long-range ammunition as of that for smooth-bore or short-range guns. The points to which I desire the ammunition to be forwarded will be made known to the Department in time. If the Quartermaster's Department can furnish any shoes, it would be the greatest relief. We have entered upon September, and the nights are becoming cool.
I have the honor to be, with high respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE, General.
The campaigns in the East in the summer of 1862 were disappointment to the North. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac not only did not capture Richmond or disable the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, but were forced back from the furthest point of their advance. Though they inflicted heavy loss upon the enemy, they suffered heavy losses themselves, in men, guns, and property of all kinds. The last serious fighting they did in the Peninsular campaign was at Malvern Hill, on July 1st, and no further events of importance took place in that region. The army was withdrawn from the Peninsula, under the orders of the Government, in the following month of August. Whether McClellan himself had failed, and whether he was not in a better position for offensive operations when he was withdrawn than he had ever occupied elsewhere, is an interesting question, but one which does not fall within the scheme of this volume to discuss.
While McClellan and the main Eastern army were in the Peninsula, various bodies of troops were held by the Government in positions nearer Washington, to ensure the safety of the Capital. The most important of these were the armies of McDowell, Fremont, and Banks. By an order dated June 26, 1862, these forces were consolidated into the Army of Virginia, and placed under the command of General Pope. Its career under Pope was unfortunate. The Southern generals found it easier to deal with Banks and Pope than with McClellan, and at Cedar Mountain and at the second battle of Manassas they inflicted upon them disastrous defeats. The guns that they took were counted by tens, the prisoners by thousands, while the lists of our killed and wounded were long and ghastly. It is at this time, when the Army of Virginia and the Army of the Potomac were united within the lines constructed for the defence of Washington, that our story begins, on September 2, 1862.
It is not to be imagined that the Union forces thus collected in front of Washington were a rabble. It is true that even successful battle produces much disorganization, and that defeat, and still more, a series of defeats, produces much more. Officers are killed and wounded, men stray from their colors, arms and equipments are lost, and much confusion is caused, and the effective force of an army is sometimes very seriously impaired; but with even tolerable troops it is very rarely destroyed altogether, even for a day. It hardly ever happens that all the troops on either side are engaged. Some are held as reserves, and not brought into action; some are detached, guarding trains or roads or bridges, or posted to meet an attack which is not made; others are in the order of battle, but by some one or more of the singular accidents of the field, they remain practically untouched while death is busy around them. These bodies of troops, except in extreme cases, preserve their organization and their efficiency, and may be made of infinite service in forming lines under cover of which the regiments which have been more roughly handled may reform. Then, in war, it is the universal principle that there is never a vacancy. The instant a superior falls, the man next him takes his place, without an order, without an assignment. The colonel replaces the general, the line officer the field officer, the noncommissioned officer the commissioned officer. However vacancies may be filled by orders from headquarters, whatever form promotion may take, this is the universal rule in action--as soon as a vacancy occurs, the man next in rank fills it the moment he knows that it exists, and he continues to fill it till orders from superior authority make a different arrangement. Thus, except in those very rare cases in which an army becomes a mob, even defeat works no destruction of the framework of the great machine, and when the men are fairly intelligent, brave, and disciplined, order and efficiency are restored with great rapidity. Thus, after the severe defeats which Lee inflicted upon Pope, the rear guard of infantry, artillery, and cavalry was orderly and calm, and formed a strong line between the Federal and Confederate forces. Lee sent Jackson to the Little River Turnpike, to attempt to turn our right and intercept our retreat to Washington, and a sharp engagement, in which the Federal General Kearny was killed, took place on September 1, near Germantown, not far from Fairfax Court House. Lee admits that "the conflict was obstinately maintained by the enemy till dark," and that the attempt was abandoned. His army rested on the 2d, near the ground where this last engagement was fought, and marched on the 3d toward Leesburg.
It is not necessary to attempt in this place to state in detail the very peculiar position which General McClellan occupied during the last days of August. It may be sufficient to say that he was practically a commander without a command. General Halleck was General-in-Chief, and he appears to have been both confused and scared, and to have been hostile to McClellan. On the 1st of September, when Pope was at and in rear of Centreville, and Jackson was moving to assail his right flank and rear, and all or nearly all of the army of the Potomac had been sent out to join Pope, McClellan left his camp near Alexandria, where he had only his staff and a small camp-guard, and went into Washington. There General Halleck instructed him, verbally, to take command of the defences of Washington, but expressly limited his jurisdiction to the works and their garrisons, and prohibited him from exercising any control over the troops actively engaged in front under General Pope.
On the morning of the 2d, McClellan says: "The President and General Halleck came to my house, when the President informed me that Colonel Kelton had returned from the front; that our affairs were in a bad condition; that the army was in full retreat upon the defences of Washington; the roads filled with stragglers, etc. He instructed me to take steps at once to stop and collect the stragglers; to place the works in a proper state of defence, and to go out to meet and take command of the army, when it approached the vicinity of the works, then to place the troops in the best position--committing everything to my hands."
So far as appears, this verbal order of the President was the only one by which McClellan was reinstated in command, and there does not seem to have been any order issued by virtue of which the Army of Virginia ceased to exist. McClellan's first official act was to send a letter of suggestion, rather than command, to Pope, and he addressed it to "Major-General John Pope, Commanding Army of Virginia,'' and signed it "Gee. B. McClellan, Major-General United States Army." Eleven days later we find him dating a letter "Headquarters Army of the Potomac," and adding to his signature the words "Major-General Commanding."
McClellan's talents as an organizer are generally admitted, and there is no doubt that at the date of which we are writing he was extremely popular with his men. As all pressure of the enemy was removed, as we have seen, on the day after the President directed him to take command of the army, he had a breathing-space in which to provide for the defences of Washington and to reorganize his army, but as the information which he received on the 3d led him to believe that the enemy intended to cross the upper Potomac into Maryland, it was necessary that the process of reorganization should go on while the troops were moving.
The necessary arrangements for the defence of the Capital were made, and General Banks was placed in command. He received his instructions from McClellan, and he had under his command the Third Corps, General Heintzelman, the Fifth Corps, General Porter, and the Eleventh Corps, General Sigel. These troops, with other troops in and about Washington, which may or may not have been included in these three corps, were reported to amount in all to 72,500 men.
The army which McClellan led from Washington was made up of the First Corps, to the command of which General Hooker was assigned; of the Second Corps, under Sumner; of one division of the Fourth Corps, under Couch; of the Sixth Corps, under Franklin; of the Ninth Corps, under Reno, and the Twelfth Corps, under Mansfield. General Couch's division was attached to the Sixth Corps. The First and Ninth Corps formed the right, under General Burnside; the Second and Twelfth the centre, under General Sumner; and the Sixth Corps, reinforced by the division of Couch, the left, under Franklin. Porter's Fifth Corps was, on the 11th of September, ordered forward to join McClellan. The aggregate present for duty of these forces, as reported by McClellan, September 20th, including the cavalry under General Pleasonton, was 89,452. He reported his losses in the two battles of South Mountain and the Antietam, both fought before the latter date, as 14,794. The aggregate of these two totals is 104,246. Swinton, in his "Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac," states that the army with which McClellan set out on the Maryland Campaign made an aggregate of 87,164 men of all arms. McClellan, in his Report, states that the total of his own forces in action at the battle of the Antietam was 87,164. The coincidence is suspicious, and lends one to believe that Swinton is in error. McClellan's statement of his numbers present for duty September 20, 1862, is officially certified as accurately compiled from his morning report of that day. The total of 89,452 therein given, not including the forces in the defences of Washington and certain detachments in Maryland, is partly made up of Porter's Corps, set down at 19,477. Deducting the latter number from the former, the remainder is 69,975. Adding the losses at South Mountain and the Antietam, 14,794, we have a total of 84,769 as the force with which he left Washington. Of course, the effective force of an army varies from day to day, from illness, death, discharge, and desertion on the one hand, and the arrival of convalescents and recruits on the other. It seems, therefore, fair to assume that McClellan left Washington with about 85,000 men, and that the arrival of Porter increased his force by an amount about equal to the losses which he sustained in the battles of the 14th and 17th of September.
General Lee's army was made up of Longstreet's command, of five divisions, containing twenty brigades; of Jackson's command, of three divisions, containing fourteen brigades; of D. H. Hill's division, of five brigades; the unattached brigade of Evans, and a very considerable force of cavalry and artillery, and probably numbered between forty and fifty thousand men, present for duty, but this question of the numbers actually engaged on each side in the Maryland campaign will receive more particular attention hereafter. Washington and its environs presented singular sights in the early days of September, 1862. The luxury and refinements of peace contrasted sharply with the privations and squalor of war. There are few prettier suburban drives than those in the neighborhood of Washington, and no weather is more delightful than that of late summer there, when a cooler air comes with the shortening days. As the shadows lengthened in the golden afternoon, well-appointed carriages rolled along those charming drives, bearing fair women in cool and fresh costumes, and by their side the ragged, dusty, sunburnt regiments from the Peninsula trudged along. Rest, cleanliness, ice, food, drink, every indulgence of civilized life were within reach, but our hands could not be stretched out to grasp them. Military discipline was the dragon that guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. They were so near and yet so far. The mythic Tantalus must have been present to the minds of many of those who then marched by the road which leads from Washington to the Chain Bridge. The carriages returned to their stables, the fair ladies returned to the enjoyment of every pleasure that Washington could confer, but the Army of the Potomac moved steadily northward, to bivouac under the stars or the clouds, and to march again in its tatters through the dust and the sunshine, through the rain and the mud. Fortunately we had by this time become soldiers in something more than the name; we had learned to make much out of little, we were cheered by the more wholesome air and the more variegated country, we were glad to get out of the wilderness of the Peninsula. It was pleasant, too, to be once more in a country that was at least nominally friendly. Whatever the real feelings of the Marylanders might be, the stars and stripes might often be seen in other places than above the heads of the color-guards. Whether the natives sold to us gladly or not, they had much to sell, and that in itself was a most agreeable novelty to us. In the Peninsula, the country afforded us nothing, and the change from the land where our meat was fat pork, or odious beef served quivering from an animal heated by the long day's march and killed as soon as the day's march was ended, to a land where fresh vegetables and poultry were not rare, was very cheering. Money was not scarce. The pay of the army was liberal, and we had had no chance to spend money in the Peninsula. So our march was pleasant. Wood and water were easy to find, instead of requiring weary searches at the end of a weary day. We no longer had to send the pioneers to search for stakes, and then to fix them toilsomely in the hard, bare earth with their picks, before we could unsaddle and let our horses' bridles go. The foragers found forage for the poor beasts in abundance, and the little tins in which we had learned to cook so cleverly had often something in them better than hard bread, water, salt, pepper, and ration meat.
We knew nothing of the enemy's movements, and though we all expected to fight again, yet the general impression seemed to be that it would be, as Dickens says, at that somewhat indefinite period which is commonly known as one of these days. But it was a time of sharp surprises. No leaves to enter Washington were granted, but when the army was at Tenallytown, kind-hearted "Uncle John" Sedgwick, then commanding the Second Division of the Second Corps, ordered one of his officers into Washington for two days, "on regimental business." About noon of the second day following, the officer heard that his command had moved, and so hastened to overtake it. Nothing could have been more peaceful than the appearance of Washington as he left it on a lovely afternoon. The signs of war were always plenty there, of course, but there was absolutely nothing to indicate the neighborhood of an enemy. Every one seemed to be as absorbed in the pursuits of peaceful business and secure pleasure as if the blast of war had not been heard in the land. On foot, on horseback, in carriages, every one seemed to be out of doors, and enjoying, whether working or playing, the perfect close of a perfect day. The officer had not ridden many miles when he met a squad of prisoners, and learned that they had been taken that morning in a skirmish on the Maryland side of the Potomac. So Lee, or some of Lee's men, had invaded a loyal State, and there was every prospect that there would soon be wigs on the green. Proceeding a few miles further, the officer found his regiment, part of a line sleeping on its arms in the order of battle, and supporting some batteries, of which the guns were unlimbered, with the gunners lying at the trails of the pieces. The report was that Jackson, with a largely superior force, was close at hand, and apparently proposing to attack in the morning. It was a dramatic changing of the scene, from the comfort and careless gayety of Washington to a starlit bivouac, with every preparation made for meeting an impending attack.
Thus did the Army of the Potomac move out in the Maryland campaign. It remains to tell in what order and by what roads. As Lee had by September 3d disappeared from the front of Washington, and as McClellan had received information which induced him to believe that he intended to cross the upper Potomac into Maryland, he thought it likely that he might be obliged not only to protect Washington, but to cover Baltimore, and to prevent the invasion of Pennsylvania. He therefore, on the 3d, sent his cavalry to the fords near Poolesville, to watch the enemy and impede a crossing in that vicinity, while he sent the Second and Twelfth Corps to Tenallytown, and the Ninth to a point on the Seventh Street road, near Washington; and in these positions, and on the Virginia side of the Potomac, near Washington, the whole of the army seems to have remained on the 4th and part of the 5th, but by the 6th Couch's division of the Fourth Corps and Franklin's Sixth Corps were at Tenallytown and Offut's Cross Roads, the Second and Twelfth Corps were at Rockville, and the First and Ninth at Leesboro'. On the 7th McClellan left Washington, and headquarters and the Sixth Corps were moved to Rockville. By this time, McClellan knew that the mass of the rebel army had passed up the south side of the Potomac in the direction of Leesburg, and that a portion of their army had crossed into Maryland, but he had no means of determining whether Lee proposed to cross his whole force with a view to turn Washington by a flank movement down the north bank of the Potomac, to move on Baltimore, or to invade Pennsylvania. This uncertainty made it appear to him necessary "to march cautiously, and to advance the army in such order as to keep Washington and Baltimore continually covered, and at the same time to hold the troops well in hand, so as to be able to concentrate and follow rapidly if the enemy took the direction of Pennsylvania, or to return to the defence of Washington, if, as was greatly feared by the authorities, the enemy should be merely making a feint with a small force to draw off our army, while with their main forces they stood ready to seize the first favorable opportunity to attack the Capital."
The general course of the Potomac above Washington is from northwest to southeast. Harper's Ferry, at the junction of the Shenandoah with the Potomac, is nearly fifty miles northwest of Washington, in a straight line. Leesburg, on the Virginia side of the Potomac, is about thirty miles northwest of Washington. Loudoun Heights, the hills at the northern end of the Blue Ridge, and the Shenandoah River, are between Leesburg and Harper's Ferry. Maryland Heights, the hills at the southern end of Elk Ridge, the ridge next west of the South Mountain range, are on the Maryland side of the Potomac, and that river flows between them and Harper's Ferry. Frederick City is in Maryland, forty miles from Washington, and a little west of north of it. Baltimore is about thirty-five miles northeast of Washington, measuring in a straight line, and Philadelphia, measuring in the same way, is about ninety miles northeast of Baltimore. Thus McClellan's field of possible operations was, or was likely to be, the quadrant of a circle, of which the radius must be thirty miles, and might be four times [bitmap] that. Experience had shown that his adversary and one of his first lieutenants were enterprising, and that their army was extremely mobile. His left was tied to the Potomac, it not by the necessities of the case, at least by the fears of the authorities at Washington, and he could only reach out to the right so far as was consistent with the preservation of a line of prudent strength, and with the possibility of rapid concentration.
The army moved slowly, but the process of reorganization proceeded rapidly, the more rapidly, no doubt, by reason of the slowness of the march. On the 9th, Couch's division, the extreme left of the army, touched the Potomac, at the mouth of Seneca Creek. Franklin's corps was at Darnestown. The Second and Twelfth Corps, constituting the centre, were at Middleburg (or Middlebrook), and the First and Ninth Corps, forming the right, were at Brookville, while the division of Sykes, of Porter's Fifth Corps, was in the rear at Tenallytown. Thus the army, Sykes's division excepted, was on the 9th on the circumference of a circle described from the centre of Washington, with a radius of twenty miles, and with an extension from left to right of about twenty-five miles. Couch's division moved by the river road, watching the fords of the Potomac, and ultimately following and supporting the Sixth Corps. Moving through Poolesville and Barnesville, it reached Licksville by the 13th. Franklin moved by Dawsonville and Barnesville to Buckeystown, "covering the road (to the rear) from the mouth of the Monocacy to Rockville, and being in a position to connect with and support the centre should it have been necessary (as McClellan supposed) to force the line of the Monocacy." It reached Buckeystown on the 13th. Sykes's division moved by Rockville, Middleburg, and Urbanna to Frederick, which place it reached on the 13th. The Second Corps moved from Middleburg through Clarksburg and Urbanna, and the Twelfth through Damascus and thence between Urbanna and New Market, to Frederick, which place both corps reached on the 13th. The First and the Ninth Corps, constituting the right wing as before, moved on Frederick, the latter by Damascus and New Market, and the former, holding the extreme right, by Cooksville and Ridgeville. All of the right wing was at Frederick on the 13th, except that by night of that day all of the Ninth Corps except Rodman's division was advanced to Middletown. Thus by night of the 13th of September, the Army of the Potomac was disposed as follows: The bulk of the army was near Frederick, with a part of the Ninth Corps advanced some eight miles to Middletown, Franklin was at Buckeystown, some five miles to the left and rear, and Couch was at Licksville, a place in the northern angle formed by the junction of the Monocacy with the Potomac. The average distance of the army from Washington may be set down at forty miles. By this time, McClellan had come into possession of some very important information, but what it was may better be left untold till some account has been given of what Lee had been doing in the last ten days, and of the state of things existing at Harper's Ferry, which place was separated by probably ten miles from the nearest troops of McClellan, as well as by a river and some very mountainous country.
The views entertained by General Lee when he entered upon the Maryland campaign are here given in his own words, taken from his official Report, dated March 6, 1863, and printed in the first volume of the "Reports of the Operations of the Army of Northern Virginia, Richmond, 1864." The armies of General McClellan and Pope had now been brought back to the point from which they set out on the campaigns of the spring and summer. The objects of those campaigns had been frustrated, and the designs of the enemy on the coast of North Carolina and in Western Virginia thwarted by the withdrawal of the main body of his forces from those regions. Northeastern Virginia was freed from the presence of Federal soldiers up to the intrenchments of Washington, and soon after the arrival of the army at Leesburg information was received that the troops which had occupied Winchester had retired to Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg. The war was thus transferred from the interior to the frontier, and the supplies of rich and productive districts made accessible to our army. To prolong a state of affairs in every way desirable, and not to permit the season for active operations to pass without endeavoring to inflict further injury upon the enemy, the best course appeared to be the transfer of the army into Maryland. Although not properly equipped for invasion, lacking much of the material of war, and feeble in transportation, the troops poorly provided with clothing, and thousands of them destitute of shoes, it was yet believed to be strong enough to detain the enemy upon the northern frontier until the approach of winter should render his advance into Virginia difficult, if not impracticable. The condition of Maryland encouraged the belief that the presence of our army, however inferior to that of the enemy, would induce the Washington Government to retain all its available force to provide against contingencies which its course toward the people of that State gave it reason to apprehend. At the same time it was hoped that military success might afford us an opportunity to aid the citizens of Maryland in any efforts they might be disposed to make to recover their liberties The difficulties that surrounded them were fully appreciated, and we expected to derive more assistance in the attainment of our object from the just fears of the Washington Government, than from active demonstration on the part of the people, unless success should enable us to give them assurance of continued protection. Influenced by these considerations, the army was put in motion, D. H. Hill's division, which had joined us on the 2d, being in advance, and between September 4th and 7th crossed the Potomac at the fords near Leesburg, and encamped in the vicinity of Fredericktown.
It was decided to cross the Potomac east of the Blue Ridge, in order, by threatening Washington and Baltimore, to cause the enemy to withdraw from the south bank, where his presence endangered our communications and the safety of those engaged in the removal of our wounded and the captured property from the late battle-fields. Having accomplished this result, it was proposed to move the army into Western Maryland, establish our communications with Richmond through the Valley of the Shenandoah, and by threatening Pennsylvania induce the enemy to follow, and thus draw him from his base of supplies.
It may be remarked, in relation to this allegation of incomplete equipment, that it seems like an excuse for failure, made after the failure had occurred, and antedated, for Lee asserts in the same Report that in the series of engagements on the plains of Manassas, which had taken place just before, there had been captured more than nine thousand prisoners, wounded and unwounded, thirty pieces of artillery, upwards of twenty thousand stand of small arms, and a large amount of stores, besides those taken by General Jackson at Manassas Junction. Jackson says that he captured there eight guns, with seventy-two horses, equipments and ammunition complete, "immense supplies" of commissary and quartermaster stores, etc. With these additions to his supplies, it would seem as if the little army with which Lee says he fought the battles of the Maryland Campaign, might have been fairly well equipped, especially when we remember how far from scrupulous the Confederates were in exchanging their shoes and clothing for the better shoes and clothing of their prisoners.
Lee's plan was a good one. It is not probable that he promised himself the capture of Philadelphia, or Baltimore, or Washington, but he might fairly believe that the chances of war might change the improbable into the possible, and the possible into the actual. He had a right to expect to get more recruits from Maryland when his army was there, than when it was on the other side of the Potomac, without anticipating that "my Maryland" would breathe or burn in any exceptional fashion, or "be the battle-queen of yore." Without indulging in the illusions of audacious hope, he might fairly count upon great and certain gains from transferring his army to the soil of Maryland. By so doing he shifted the burden of military occupation from Confederate to Federal soil. He secured to the Virginians the precious crops of the Shenandoah Valley and their other Northeastern counties. He had two or three months of fine weather before him. He had for his opponent McClellan, and experience had shown him that McClellan never attacked, and always let him choose his own time and place for fighting. His army had learned to march with great rapidity and to fight with great gallantry and tenacity, and he had several lieutenants upon whom he knew he could place very great reliance. Under all the circumstances, he might well think that at the head of his army, with its habit of victory, and with the Shenandoah Valley open behind him, he had everything to gain and nothing to lose from an autumn campaign in Maryland, against the Army of the Potomac with its habit of defeat, and against McClellan with his want of initiative. Whether he knew or even suspected how heavily the brave and loyal and long-suffering Army of the Potomac was handicapped by the miserable jealousies, civil and military, that prevailed at the time, cannot be told. If he did, the knowledge must have greatly raised his hopes and increased his confidence. If Lee had been in McClellan's place on the 17th of September, and had sent Jackson to conduct the right attack and Longstreet to force the passage of the lower bridge and turn the Confederate right, the Army of Northern Virginia, though commanded by a second Lee, a second Jackson, and a second Longstreet, would have ceased to exist that day. In the northward movement of Lee's army, D. H. Hill had the advance. The crossing of the Potomac was effected at the ford near Leesburg, between the 4th and the 7th of September, and the army encamped in the vicinity of Frederick. The march was unopposed. The concentration was effected while McClellan's army was still twenty miles or more away. Lee had expected that the advance upon Frederick would lead to the evacuation of Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry, and thus open his line of communication through the Valley of Virginia. Troops had been placed there, 2,500 men at Martinsburg under General White, and 9,000 men at Harper's Ferry, under Colonel Miles, of the Second United States Infantry, to command the débouché of the Shenandoah Valley. Whatever the propriety of placing such forces in such positions in ordinary times may have been, it is plain that the presence of Lee's army in Maryland put a new face upon the matter, and that these troops must then either be able to hold their position till relieved, in other words, be able to stand a siege, or ought at once to decamp and join themselves to the nearest substantial Union force. Lee thought they or their superiors would see this, and that they would be ordered to go. He says "it had been supposed that the advance upon Frederick would lead to the evacuation of Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry, thus opening the line of communication through the Valley. This not having occurred, it became necessary to dislodge the enemy from those positions before concentrating the army west of the mountains." McClellan perceived that these troops were of little or no use where they were, in the altered position of affairs, and he probably knew that they could not hold Harper's Ferry against Lee if Lee turned against them. At any rate he telegraphed General Halleck, the General-in-Chief, on the 11th, "Colonel Miles....can do nothing where he is, but could be of great service if ordered to join me. I suggest that he be ordered at once to join me by the most practicable route." General Halleck replied by telegraph the same day: "There is no way for Colonel Miles to join you at present. The only chance is to defend his works until you can open a communication with him. When you do so, he will be subject to your orders." General Halleck seems to have been mistaken in the facts, as Loudoun Heights were not reached by the enemy till the 13th, and there seems to be no reason why Miles might not have retreated by the south bank of the Potomac long before the toils were drawn around him. Halleck seems to have been in error, as a matter of military principle, but the error probably resulted favorably for the Union arms, as will be seen.
The position, then, was this: Lee, with his army concentrated at Frederick, knew that there was a comparatively small force of the enemy in his rear, and on his main line of communication, and thought that it must be dislodged before he concentrated his army west of the mountains. He also knew that the Federal army was advancing slowly, and giving him a chance to operate against Harper's Ferry. McClellan knew by the 10th that it was "quite probable" that Lee's army was in the vicinity of Frederick, and on the next day that the General-in-Chief declined to move Miles from Harper's Ferry, and left him to open communications with him. Here, then, was the best possible opportunity for a race. It should be said, in justice to McClellan, that before he left Washington, and when the movement was not only possible but easy, he had recommended that the garrison of Harper's Ferry should be withdrawn by the way of Hagerstown, to aid in covering the Cumberland Valley, or that, taking up the pontoon bridge across the Potomac, and obstructing the railroad bridge, it should fall back to Maryland Heights, and there hold out to the last. Neither of these suggestions was adopted, and there was nothing left for McClellan to do but to endeavor to relieve the garrison. It was plainly a case for great activity on McClellan's part. His uncertainty, up to the 13th of September, as to the intentions of the enemy, and the telegraphic messages from Halleck, the General-in-Chief, cautioning him against exposing his left and rear and uncovering Washington, may be accepted as valid excuses for the slowness of his movements, and his unwillingness to advance his left more rapidly than his other columns, but on the 13th the position of things changed, and all uncertainty as to the intentions of the enemy were dispelled. On that day, at an hour which we have no means of fixing, further than that it was before 6.20 P.M., an order of such importance fell into his hands that we copy it in full.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
September 9, 1862.
The army will resume its march to-morrow, taking the Hagerstown road. General Jackson's command will form the advance, and, after passing Middletown, with such portion as he may select, take the route toward Sharpsburg, cross the Potomac at the most convenient point, and by Friday night take possession of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and capture such of the enemy as may be at Martinsburg, and intercept such as may attempt to escape from Harper's Ferry.
General Longstreet's command will pursue the same road as far as Boonsboro', where it will halt with the reserve, supply, and baggage trains of the army. General McLaws, with his own division and that of General R. H. Anderson, will follow General Longstreet; on reaching Middletown, he will take the route to Harper's Ferry, and by Friday morning possess himself of the Maryland Heights, and endeavor to capture the enemy at Harper's Ferry and vicinity.
General Walker, with his division, after accomplishing the object in which he is now engaged, will cross the Potomac at Cheek's Ford, ascend its right bank to Lovettsville, take possession of Loudoun heights, if practicable, by Friday morning, Keys' ford on his left and the road between the end of the mountain and the Potomac on his right. He will, as far as practicable, co-operate with General McLaws and General Jackson in intercepting the retreat of the enemy.
General D. H. Hill's division will form the rear guard of the army, pursuing the road taken by the main body. The reserve artillery, ordnance and supply trains, etc., will precede General Hill.
General Stuart will detach a squadron of cavalry to accompany the commands of Generals Longstreet, Jackson, and McLaws, and with the main body of the cavalry will cover the route of the army and bring up all stragglers that may have been left behind.
The commands of Generals Jackson, McLaws, and Walker, after accomplishing the objects for which they have been detached, will join the main body of the army at Boonsboro' or Hagerstown.
Each regiment on the march will habitually carry its axes in the regimental ordnance wagons, for use of the men at their encampments, to procure wood, etc.
By command of GENERAL R. E. LEE.
R. H. CHILTON,
Assistant Adjutant General.
It appears from the statement of Colonel Taylor, Adjutant-General of the Army of Northern Virginia, that at this time General D. H. Hill was in command of a division which had not been attached to nor incorporated with either of the two wings of that army, and that one copy of Special Orders No. 191, was sent to him directly from headquarters, and that General Jackson also sent him a copy, as he regarded Hill in his command, and that the order sent from general headquarters was carelessly left by some one in Hill's camp; while the other, which was in Jackson's own hand, was preserved by Hill.
This order told McClellan two things, both of great importance.
First.--That Lee, by orders issued four days before, had divided his army, sending Jackson and his command, and Walker's division, across the Potomac. Second.--That the object of this division was the capture of the garrison at Harper's Ferry, and the large outpost at Martinsburg. It also gave him the additional and scarcely less important information, where the rest of the army, trains, rear guard, cavalry, and all, were to march and to halt, and where the detached commands were to join the main body.
The finding of this paper was a piece of rare good fortune. It placed the Army of Northern Virginia at the mercy of McClellan, provided only that he came up with it and struck while its separation continued. If he hurried his left column by Burkittsville, through Crampton's Gap, it would come directly upon the rear of McLaws's force on Maryland Heights. If he pressed his right by Middletown, through Turner's Gap, he would interpose between Hill and Longstreet on the one hand, and all the troops beyond the Potomac on the other. The case called for the utmost exertion, and the utmost speed. He could afford to let one of the three great divisions of his army move less rapidly, but not a moment should have been lost in pushing his columns detailed for the left and right advance through the South Mountain passes. Twenty miles is a liberal estimate of the distance which each column had to march. It was a case for straining every nerve, and, though it is not certain at just what times the Confederate troops sent back to hold these passes actually occupied them, yet it is certain that they were very feebly held as late as the morning of the 14th, and that Harper's Ferry was not surrendered till 8 A.M. on the 15th, thirty-eight hours certainly, probably considerably more, after the lost order came to the hands of McClellan. It cannot be said that he did not act with considerable energy, but he did not act with sufficient. The opportunity came within his reach, such an opportunity as hardly ever presented itself to a commander of the Army of the Potomac, and he almost grasped it, but not quite. As Lee's movements were earlier in point of time, we will describe them first, and it will be seen that nothing could have been nearer or completer than the way in which his lieutenants carried out his orders.
Jackson's command left the vicinity of Frederick on the 10th, and passing rapidly through Middletown, Boonsboro' and Williamsport, twenty-five miles or more from Frederick, crossed the Potomac into Virginia on the 11th. From Williamsport, one division moved on the turnpike from that town to Martinsburg. The two other divisions moved further to the west, to prevent the Federal forces at Martinsburg from escaping westward unobserved. General White, in command of the outpost at Martinsburg, becoming advised of the Confederate approach, left that town on the night of the 11th, and retreated to Harper's Ferry. Early on the 12th, the head of the Confederate column came in view of the Federal troops, drawn up on Bolivar Heights, above Harper's Ferry. The three divisions went into camp at and near Halltown, about two miles from the Federal position. There they waited for news from the co-operating columns.
General McLaws, with his own and General Anderson's divisions, moved on the 10th by Burkittsville, into Pleasant Valley. This valley runs north and south, between the South Mountains on the east and Elk Ridge on the west. The southern extremity of Elk Ridge, where it is cut by the Potomac, is called Maryland Heights, and these heights completely command Harper's Ferry with a plunging fire. While Maryland Heights were held by the Federals, Harper's Ferry could not be occupied by the Confederates. If the Confederates gained possession of those heights, the town was no longer tenable by the Federals. After meeting and overcoming some opposition, McLaws gained full possession of Maryland Heights by 4.30 P.M. of the 13th. He promptly made such dispositions of his troops as prevented all possibility of escape from the town to the east, and then waited to hear from Jackson and Walker. He employed his time in getting artillery into position on the heights, and by 2 P. M. of the 14th he opened fire from four guns.
General Walker crossed the Potomac at Point of Rocks, during the night of the 10th and by daylight of the 11th, and proceeded the next day toward Harper's Ferry, encamping at Hillsborough. On the morning of the 13th, he reached the foot of the Loudoun Heights, and presently occupied them with two regiments. In the afternoon, he learned that McLaws had possession of Maryland Heights, which commanded the Loudoun Heights as well as Harper's Ferry, and he proceeded to place all of his division which was not on the heights in position to prevent the escape of the garrison of Harper's Ferry down the right bank of the Potomac.
By these movements of Jackson, McLaws, and Walker, the Federal force at Harper's Ferry was surrounded, and at the mercy of the enemy. Colonel Miles, its commander, was killed in the operations which led to the reduction of the place, and it is not known upon what grounds he could have expected to hold the place, if attacked with energy and intelligence, without retaining possession of Maryland Heights. It is stated by McClellan, however, that on the morning of the 14th, a messenger reached him from Colonel Miles, and told him that Maryland Heights had been abandoned by his troops, and that they as well as the Loudoun and Bolivar Heights had been occupied by the enemy. The messenger also said that Colonel Miles instructed him to say that he could hold out with certainty two days longer. If Colonel Miles really sent this message, it is difficult to understand how he could have entertained such a belief.
A man may travel far and wide in America without coming upon a lovelier spot than the heights above Harper's Ferry. The town itself is low and possesses no particular attractions, but one who stands above it may see the beautiful Valley of Virginia extending far to the folded hills of the southwest. As he looks to the town, the Loudoun Heights rise boldly on his right, and between him and them the Shenandoah, a stream that deserves the epithet of arrowy as well as the Rhone, rushes to its union with the broad and yellow and sluggish Potomac. In the hollow before him is the town, with Maryland Heights rising like the Trossachs beyond the river, and, that nothing may be wanting to the picture, there is the canal, with its "margin willow veiled," and its barges, to give the contrast of utter, dreamy repose to the vehemence of the Shenandoah and the rugged grandeur of the hills.
On September 14th Jackson made his final dispositions, causing A. P. Hill to advance on his right till he reached the Shenandoah, and from there to move forward till his guns and troops were above, to the right, and in rear of the left of the Federal line of defence. Ewell's division, under Lawton, moved along the turnpike, to support Hill and aid in the general movement. Jackson's own division, under J. R. Jones, secured with one brigade a commanding hill to the left, near the Potomac, the rest moving along the turnpike as a reserve. During the night, seven batteries were placed in advanced positions, and ten guns were taken across the Shenandoah, and established on its right bank, in a position which gave them an enfilade fire on the Federal line on Bolivar Heights, while the remaining batteries of Jackson's command were placed in position on School House Hill. Early on the 15th every Confederate gun opened fire--the numerous batteries of Jackson's command, Walker's guns from Loudoun Heights, the guns sent across the Shenandoah during the night, McLaws's guns from Maryland Heights. In an hour the Federal fire seemed to be silenced, the signal for storming the works was given, and the advance was begun, when the Federal fire reopened. The Confederate guns replied, and at once the white flag was displayed by the Federals, and presently General White, who had succeeded to the command when Colonel Miles received a mortal wound, surrendered himself and 11,000 men, with 73 pieces of artillery, many small arms and other stores. The first part of the Confederate programme had been carried out with complete success, but with greater expenditure of time than Lee had anticipated, and it will be seen that the delay almost proved fatal to him, and that McClellan ought to have made it absolutely fatal to him.
Army of Northern Virginia.,
Near Frederick Town, 8th September, 1862.
TO THE PEOPLE OF MARYLAND:
It is right that you should know the purpose that has brought the army under my command within the limits of your State, so far as that purpose concerns yourselves. The people of the Confederate States have long watched with the deepest sympathy the wrongs and outrages that have been inflicted upon the citizens of a Commonwealth allied to the States of the South by the strongest social, political, and commercial ties.
They have seen with profound indignation their sister-State deprived of every right and reduced to the condition of a conquered province. Under the pretense of supporting the Constitution, but in violation of its most valuable provisions, your citizens have been arrested and imprisoned upon no charge and contrary to all forms of law; the faithful and manly protest against this outrage made by the venerable and illustrious Marylander to whom in better days no citizen appealed for right in vain was treated with scorn and contempt; the government of your chief city has been usurped by armed strangers; your legislature has been dissolved by the unlawful arrest of its members; freedom of the press and of speech has been suppressed; words have been declared offences by an arbitrary decree of the Federal executive, and citizens ordered to be tried by a military commission for what they may dare to speak.
Believing that the people of Maryland possessed a spirit too lofty to submit to such a government, the people of the South have long wished to aid you in throwing off this foreign yoke, to enable you again to enjoy the inalienable rights of freemen and restore independence and sovereignty to your State. In obedience to this wish our army has come among you, and is prepared to assist you with the power of its arms in regaining the rights of which you have been despoiled. This, citizens of Maryland, is our mission, so far as you are concerned. No constraint upon your free will is intended ; no intimidation will be allowed. Within the limits of this army at least, Marylanders shall once more enjoy their ancient freedom of thought and speech. We know no enemies among you, and will protect all, of every opinion. It is for you to decide your destiny freely and without constraint.
This army will respect your choice, whatever it may be; and, while the Southern people will rejoice to welcome you to your natural position among them, they will only welcome you when you come of your own free will.
R. E. LEE,
Source: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion
By George O. Seilheimer
THAT Barbara Frietchie lived is not denied. That she died at the advanced age of 96 years and is buried in the burial-ground of the German Reformed Church in Frederick is also true.
There is only one account of Stonewall Jackson's entry into Frederick, and that was written by a Union army surgeon who was in charge of the hospital there at the time. "Jackson I did not get a look at to recognize him," the doctor wrote on the 21st of September, "though I must lave seen him, as I witnessed the passage of all the troops through the town." Not a word about Barbara Frietchie and this incident. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, too, was in Frederick soon afterward, on his way to find his son, reported mortally wounded at Antietam. Such a story, had it been true, could scarcely have failed to reach his ears, and be would undoubtedly have told it in his delightful chapter of war reminiscences, "My Hunt for the Captain," had he heard it. Barbara Frietchie had a flag, and it is now in the possession of Mrs. Handschue and her daughter, Mrs. Abbott, of Frederick. Mrs. Handschue was the niece and adopted daughter of Mrs. Frietchie, and the flag came to her as part of her inheritance, a cup out of which General Washington drank tea when he spent a night in Frederick in 1791 being among the Frietchie heirlooms. This flag which Mrs. Handschue and her daughter so religiously preserve is torn, but the banner was not rent with seam and gash from a rifle-blast; it is torn---only this and nothing more. That Mrs. Frietchie did not wave the flag at Jackson's men Mrs. Handschue positively affirms. The flag-waving act was done, however, by Mrs. Mary S. Quantrell, another Frederick woman; but Jackson took no notice of it, and as Mrs. Quantrell was not fortunate enough to find a poet to celebrate her deed she never became famous.
Colonel Henry Kyd Douglas, who was with General Jackson every minute of his stay in Frederick, declares in an article in "The Century " for June, 1886, that Jackson never saw Barbara Frietchie, and that Barbara never saw Jackson. This story is home out by Mrs. Frietchie's relatives. As already said, Barbara Frietchie had a flag and she waved it, not on the 6th to Jackson's men, but on the 12th to Burnside's. Here is the story as told by Mrs. Abbott, Mrs. Handschue's daughter :
"Jackson and his men had been in Frederick and bad left a short time before. We were glad that the rebels had gone and that our troops came. My mother and I lived almost opposite aunt's place. She and my mothers cousin. Harriet Yoner, lived together. Mother said I should go and see aunt and tell her not to be frightened. You know that aunt was then almost ninety-six years old. When I reached aunt's place she knew as much as I did about matters, and cousin Harriet was with her. They were on the front porch. and aunt was leaning on the cane she always carried. When the troops marched along aunt waved her hand, and cheer after cheer went up from the men as they saw her. Some even ran into the yard. 'God bless you, old lady.' 'Let me take you by the hand,' 'May you live long, you dear old soul,' cried one after the other, as they rushed into the yard. Aunt being rather feeble, and in order to save her as much as we could, cousin Harriet Yoner said. 'Aunt ought to have a flag to wave.' The flag was hidden in the family Bible, and cousin Harriet got it and gave it to aunt. Then she waved the flag to the men and they cheered her as they went by. She was very patriotic and the troops all knew of her. The day before General Reno was killed he came to see aunt and had a talk with her."
The manner in which the Frietchie legend originated was very simple. A Frederick lady visited Washington some time after the invasion of 1 the open sympathy and valor of Barbara Frietchie. The story was told again and again, and it was never lost in the telling. Mr. Whittier received his first knowledge of it from Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth, the novelist, who is a resident of Washington. When Mrs. Southworth wrote to Mr. Whittier concerning Barbara, she enclosed a newspaper slip reciting the circumstances of Barbara Frietchie's action when Lee entered Frederick.
When Mr. Whittier wrote the poem he followed as closely as possible the account sent him at the time. He has a cane made from the timber of Barbara's house,---a present from Dr. Stiener, a member of the Senate of Maryland. The flag with which Barbara Frietchie gave a hearty welcome to Burnside's troops has but thirty-four stars, is small, of silk, and attached to a staff probably a yard in length. (1)
Barbara Frietchie was born at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Her maiden name was Hauer. She was born December 3d, 1766, her parents being Nicholas and Catharine Hauer. She went to Frederick in early life, where she married John C. Frietchie, a glover, in 1806. She died December 18th, 1862, Mr. Frietchie having died in 1849. In 1868 the waters of Carroll Creek rose to such a height that they nearly wrecked the old home of the heroine of Whittier's poem.
(1) Writing to the editor of "The Century" on the 10th of June, 1886, Mr. Whittier said: "The poem 'Barbara Frietchie' was written in good faith. The story was no invention of mine. It cams to me from sources which I regarded as entirely reliable: it had been published in newspapers, and had gained public credence in Washington and Maryland before my poem was written. I had no reason to doubt its accuracy then, and I am still constrained to believe that it had foundation in fact. If I thought otherwise, I should not hesitate to express it. I have no pride of authorship to interfere with my allegiance to truth." Mr. Whittier, writing March 7th, 1862, Informs us further that he "also received letters from several other responsible persons wholly or partially confirming the story, among whom was the late Dorothea L. Dix."--- EDITORS
(Fightning For Time at Turner's and Fox's Gaps)
By Daniel H. Hill, Lieutenant-General, C.S.A.
The conflict of the 14th of September, 1862, is called at the North the battle of South Mountain, and at the South the battle of Boonsboro. So many battle-fields of the Civil War bear double names that we cannot believe the duplication has been accidental. It is the unusual which impresses. The troops of the North came mainly from cities, towns, and villages, and were, therefore, impressed by some natural object near the scene of the conflict and named the battle from it. The soldiers from the South were chiefly from the country and were, therefore, impressed by some artificial object near the field of action. In one section the naming has been after the handiwork of God; in the other section it has been after the handiwork of man. Thus, the first passage of arms is called the battle of Bull Run at the North,---the name of a little stream. At the South it takes the name of Manassas, from a railroad station. The second battle on the same ground is called the Second Bull Run by the North, and the Second Manassas by the South. Stone's defeat is the battle of Ball's Bluff With the Federals, and the battle of Leesburg with the Confederates. The battle called by General Grant, Pittsburg Landing, a natural object, was named Shiloh, after a church, by his antagonist. Rosecrans called his first great fight with Bragg, the battle of Stone River, while Bragg named it after Murfreesboro', a village. So McClellan's battle of the Chickahominy, (Gaines Mill) a little river, was with Lee the battle of Cold Harbor, a tavern. The Federals speak of the battle of Pea Ridge, of the Ozark range of mountains, and the Confederates call it after Elk Horn, a country inn. The Union soldiers called the bloody battle three days after South Mountain from the little stream, Antietam, and the Southern troops named it after the village of Sharpsburg. Many instances might be given of this double naming by the opposing forces. According to the same law of the unusual, the war-songs of a people have generally been written s. The bards who followed the banners of the feudal lords, sang of their exploits, and stimulated them and their retainers to deeds of high emprise, wore no armor and carried no swords. So, too, the impassioned orators, who roused our ancestors in 1776 with the thrilling cry, "Liberty or Death," never once put themselves in the way of a death by lead or steel, by musket-ball or bayonet stab. The noisy speakers of 1861, who fired the Northern heart and who fired the Southern heart, never did any other kind of firing.
The battle of South Mountain was one of extraordinary illusions and delusions. The Federals were under the self-imposed illusion that there was a very large force opposed to them, whereas there was only one weak division until late in the afternoon. They might have brushed it aside almost without halting, but for this illusion. It was a battle of delusions also, for, by moving about from point to point and meeting the foe wherever he presented himself, the Confederates deluded the Federals into the belief that the whole mountain was swarming with rebels. I will endeavor to explain the singular features of the battle and what caused them.
In the retirement of Lee's army from Frederick to Hagerstown and Boonsboro', my division constituted the rear-guard. It consisted of five brigades (Wise's brigade being left behind), and after the arrival at Boonsboro' was intrusted with guarding the wagon trains and parks of artillery belonging to the whole army. Longstreet's corps went to Hagerstown, thirteen miles from Boonsboro', and I was directed to distribute my five brigades so as not only to protect the wagons and guns, but also to watch all the roads leading from Harper's Ferry, in order to intercept the Federal forces that might make their escape before Jackson had completed the investment of that place. It required a considerable separation of my small command to accomplish these two objects, and my tent, which was pitched about the center of the five brigades, was not less than three miles from Turner's Gap on the National road crossing South Mountain.
During the forenoon of the 13th General Stuart, who was in an advance position at the gap in the Catoctin Mountain, east of Middletown, with our cavalry, sent a dispatch to me saying that he was followed by two brigades of Federal infantry, and asking me to send him a brigade to check the pursuit at South Mountain. I sent him the brigades of Colquitt and Garland, and the batteries of Bondurant and Lane, with four guns each. Pleasonton's Federal cavalry division came up to the mountain and pressed on till our infantry forces were displayed, when it returned without fighting. The Confederates, half of Lee's army at Harper's Ferry, distant a march of two days, and with the remainder divided into two parts, thirteen miles from each other, were in good condition to be beaten in detail, scattered and captured. General Longstreet writes to me that he urged General Lee in the evening of the 13th to unite at Sharpsburg the troops which were then at Hagerstown and Boonsboro'. He said that he could effect more with one-third of his own corps, fresh and rested, than with the whole of it, when exhausted by a forced march to join their comrades. That night, finding that he could not rest, General Longstreet rose and wrote to his commander, presenting his views once more, favoring the abandonment of the defense of the mountain except by Stuart and the concentration at Sharpsburg.
I received a note about midnight of the 13th from General Lee saying that he was not satisfied with the condition of things on the turnpike or National road, and directing me to go in person to Turner's Gap the next morning and assist Stuart in its defense. In his official report General Lee says:
"Learning that Harper's Ferry had not surrendered and that the enemy was advancing more rapidly than was convenient from Fredericton, I determined to return with Longstreet's command to the Blue Ridge to strengthen D. H. Hill's and Stuart's divisions engaged in holding the passes of the mountains, lest the enemy should fall upon Claws's rear, drive him from the Maryland Heights, and thus relieve the garrison at Harper's Ferry."
This report and the note to me show that General Lee expected General Stuart to remain and help defend the pass on the 14th. But on reaching the Mountain House between daylight and sunrise that morning, I received a message from Stuart that he had gone to Crampton's Gap. He was too gallant a soldier to leave his post when a battle was imminent, and doubtless he believed that there was but a small Federal force on the National road. I found Garland's brigade at the Mountain House and learned that Colquitt's was at the foot of the mountain on the east side. I found General Colquitt there without vedettes and without information of the Federals, but believing that they had retired. General Cox's Federal division was at that very time marching up the old Sharpsburg or Braddock's road, a mile to the south, seizing the heights on our right and establishing those heavy batteries which afterward commanded the pike and all the approaches to it. General Pleasonton, of the Federal cavalry, had learned the ground by the reconnaissance of the day before, and to him was intrusted the posting of the advance troops of Reno's corps on the south side of the pike. He says:
"I directed Scammon's brigade to move up the mountain on the left-hand road, gain the crest, and then move to the right, to the turnpike in the enemy's rear. At the same time I placed Gibson's battery and the heavy batteries in position to the left, covering the road on that side and obtaining a direct fire on the enemy's position in the gap." This shows that Pleasonton knew that the Confederate forces were at the foot of the mountain. However, I brought Colquitt's brigade back to a point near the summit and placed the 23d and 28th Georgia regiments on the north side of the pike behind a stone-wall, which afforded an excellent fire upon the pike. The other three regiments, the 6th and 27th Georgia and the 13th Alabama, were posted on the south side of the pike, a little in advance of the wall and well protected by a dense wood. This brigade did not lose an inch of ground that day. The skirmishers were driven in, but the line of battle on both sides of the road was the same at 10 o'clock at night as it was at 9 o'clock in the morning. After posting Colquitt's brigade I went with Major Ratchford of my staff on a reconnaissance to our right. About three-fourths of a mile from the Mountain House we discovered, by the voices of command and the rumbling of wheels, that the old road and heights above it were occupied, and took it for granted that the occupation was by Federal troops. We did not see them, and I suppose we were not seen by them. Colonel T. L. Rosser of the cavalry had been sent that morning with his regiment and Pelham's artillery, by order of General Stuart, to seize Fox's Gap on the Braddock road. Cox had got to the heights first and confronted Rosser with a portion of his command, while the remainder of it could be plainly seen at the foot of the mountain. General Rosser writes to me that he reported the situation of things to Stuart, who was passing by on the east side of the mountain on his way south. He, Rosser, was not directed to report to me, and I did not suspect his presence. I do not know to this hour whether Ratchford and myself came near stumbling upon him or upon the enemy.
Returning through the woods we came upon a cabin, the owner of which was in the yard, surrounded by his children, and evidently expectant of something. The morning being cool, Ratchford was wearing a blue cloak which he had found at Seven Pines. In questioning the mountaineer about the roads I discovered that he thought we were Federals. "The road on which your battery is'" said the valley road near the church." This satisfied me that the enemy was on our right, and I asked him: "Are there any rebels on the pike?' "Yes; there are some about the Mountain House." I asked: "Are there many ?" "Well, there are several; I don't know how many." "Who is in command?" "I don't know." Just then a shell came hurtling through the woods, and a little girl began crying. Having a little one at home of about the same age, I could not forbear stopping a moment to say a few soothing words to the frightened child, before hurrying off to the work of death.
The firing had aroused that prompt and gallant soldier, General Garland, and his men were under arms when I reached the pike. I explained the situation briefly to him, directed him to sweep through the woods, reach the road, and hold it at all hazards, as the safety of Lee's large train depended upon its being held. He went off in high spirits and I never saw him again. I never knew a truer, better, braver man. Had he lived, his talents, pluck, energy, and purity of character must have put him in the front rank of his profession, whether in civil or military life.
After passing through the first belt of woods Garland found Rosser, and, conferring with him, determined to make his stand close to the junction of the roads, near the summit of the mountain (Fox's Gap). He had With him five regiments of infantry and Bondurant's battery of artillery---his infantry force being a little less than one thousand men, all North Carolinians. The 5th regiment was placed on the right of the road, With the 12th as its support; the 23d was posted behind a low stone-wall on the left of the 5th; then came the 20th and 13th. From the nature of the ground and the duty to be performed, the regiments were not in contact With each other, and the 13th was 250 yards to the left of the 20th. Fifty skirmishers of the 5th North Carolina soon encountered the 23d Ohio, deployed as skirmishers under Lieutenant-Colonel R. B. Hayes, afterward President of the United States, and the action began at 9 A. M. between Cox's division and Garland's brigade.
I will delay an account of the fight to give the strength of the forces engaged. The Ninth Corps (Reno's) consisted of four divisions under Cox, Willcox, Sturgis, and Rodman; or eight brigades---Scammon and Crook (Cox); Christ and Welsh (Willcox); Nagle and Ferrero (Sturgis); and Fairchild and Harland (Rodman). It had 29 regiments of infantry, 3 companies of cavalry, and 8 batteries of artillery, 3 of them United States batteries of regulars under Benjamin, Clark, and Muhlenberg. (1) General Cox, who fought Garland, had six Ohio regiments under Brigadiers Scammon and Crook, and also the batteries of McMullin and Simmonds, and three companies of cavalry. The heavy batteries in position (20-pounder Parrotts) were of service to him also' in commanding the approaches to the scene of the conflict. The strength of the division is not even directly, but Scammon estimates his effectives at 1455. The other brigade was most likely equally strong, and I conclude that Cox's infantry, artillery, and cavalry reached three thousand. Garland's brigade is estimated at "scarce a thousand."
Scammon's brigade led the attack with great spirit. The 13th North Carolina, under Lieutenant-Colonel Ruffin, and the 20th, under Colonel Alfred Iverson, were furiously assailed on the left. Both regiments were under tried and true soldiers, and they received the assault calmly. Lieutenant Crome, of McMullin's battery, ran up a section of artillery by hand, and opened with effect upon the 20th North Carolina; but the skirmishers under Captain Atwell of that regiment killed the gallant officer while he was himself serving as a gunner. The section was abandoned, but the Confederates were unable to capture it. The effort seemed to be to turn the 13th; and Colonel Ruffin in vain urged General Garland to go to the other part of his line. But with Garland the post of danger was the post of honor. Judge Ruffin, in a recent letter to me, thus speaks of the fall of the hero: "I said to him: 'General, why do you stay here ? you are in great danger.'
"To which he replied: 'I may as well be here as yourself.'
(1) According to General Cox, until the arrival of Wilcox with his division, about 2 o'clock, Cox's division and a portion of Pleasonton's cavalry were the only Union troops on the field. Sturgis arrived on the field about 3: 30.---EDITORS.
"I said: 'No, it is my duty to be here with my regiment, but you could better superintend your brigade from a safer position.'
"Just then I was shot in the hip, and as there was no field-officer then with the regiment, other than myself, I told him of my wound, and that it might disable me, and in that case I wished a field-officer to take my place. He turned and gave some order, which I have forgotten. In a moment I heard a groan, and looked and found him mortally wounded and writhing in pain. We continued to occupy this position for some time, when I sent my adjutant to the right to see what was going on was the furious fighting had ceased in that direction). He returned and reported that the remainder of the brigade was gone and that the ground was occupied by the enemy. I then attempted to go to the left, hoping to come in contact with some portion of your command, but was again confronted by the enemy. I next tried to retreat to the rear, but to my dismay found myself entirely surrounded. The enemy in front was pressing us' and I saw but one way out, and that was to charge those in my front, repel them, if possible, and then, before they could recover, make a dash at those in my rear and cut my way out. This plan was successfully executed. I shall never forget the feelings of relief which I experienced when I first caught sight of you. You rode up to me, and, shaking my hand, said that you had given us up for lost and did not see how it was possible for us to have escaped. You then attached us to G. B. Anderson's brigade, which had come up in the meantime. . . . I remember one remark which you made just after congratulating me upon cutting my way out that surprised me very much. You said that you were greatly gratified to find that McClellan's whole army was in your front. As I knew how small your force was, I could not understand how it could be a source of pleasure to you to find yourself assailed by twenty times your number. In a moment you made it plain to me by saying that you had feat McClellan's attack upon you was but a feint, and that with his main army he would cross the mountain at some of the lower gaps and would thus cut in between Jackson's corps and the forces under Lee."
A little before this I had seen from the lookout station near the Mountain House the vast army of McClellan spread out before me. The marching columns extended back far as eye could see in the distance; but many of the troops had already arrived and were in double lines of battle, and those advancing were taking up positions as fast as they arrived. It was a grand and glorious spectacle, and it was impossible to look at it without admiration. I had never seen so tremendous an army before, and I did not see one like it afterward. For though we confronted greater forces at Yorktown, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, and about Richmond under Grant, these were only partly seen, at most a corps at a time. But here four corps were in full view, one of which was on the mountain and almost within rifle-range. The sight inspired more satisfaction than discomfort; for though I knew that my little force could be brushed away as readily as the strong man can brush to one side the wasp or the hornet, I felt that General McClellan had made a mistake, and I hoped to be able to delay him until General Longstreet could come up and our trains could be extricated from their perilous position.
When two distinct roars of artillery were heard south of us that morning, I thought that the nearer one indicated that McClellan was forcing his way across some gap north of Harper's Ferry with a view of cutting Lee's army in two I suppose that Stuart believed that this would be the movement of the enemy, and for this reason abandoned Turner's Gap and hastened to what he believed to be the point of danger. McClellan was too cautious a man for so daring a venture. Had he made it, Jackson could have escaped across the Potomac, but the force under Lee in person (Longstreet's corps and my division) must have been caught. My division was very small and was embarrassed with the wagon trains and artillery of the whole army, save such as Jackson had taken with him. It must be remembered that the army now before McClellan had been constantly marching and fighting since the 25th of June. It had fought McClellan's army from Richmond to the James, and then had turned about and fought Pope's army, reenforced by parts of McClellan's, from the Rapidan to the Potomac. The order excusing barefooted men from marching into Maryland had sent thousands to the rear. Divisions had become smaller than brigades were when the fighting first began; brigades had become smaller than regiments' and regiments had become smaller than companies. (2) Dabney, a careful statistician, in his "Life of Jackson," estimates Lee's forces at Sharpsburg (Antietam) at 33,000 men, including the three arms of service. (3) Three of Longstreet's twelve brigades had gone to Harper's Ferry with Jackson. He (Longstreet) puts the strength of his nine brigades at Hagerstown on 14th of September at thirteen thousand men. Accepting the correctness of his estimate for the present (though I expect to prove it to be too large), I find that Lee had under his immediate command that morning but eighteen thousand men.
McClellan gives his force at Sharpsburg at 87,164, Had he made the movement which Stuart and myself thought he was making, it was hardly possible for the little force under Lee in person to have escaped, encumbered as it was With wagon trains and reserve artillery. Forming his infantry into a solid column of attack, Lee might have cut a way through the five-fold force of his antagonist, but all the trains must have been lost,---an irreparable loss to the South. Frederick the Great's campaign against the allies (2) Thus the 18th Virginia Regiment (p. 899, Vol. XIX., of the "Official Records") is put at 120 men; 56th Virginia Regiment at SO; 8th Virginia at 34; Hampton Legion (p. 931) at 77; 17th South Carolina Regiment at 59 (p. 946).---D. H. H.
(3) According to Thomas White, Chief Clerk in the Adjutant-General's Office at Lee's headquarters, General Lee had 33,000 infantry at Sharpsburg, or 41,500 of all arms. Adding 2000 for the previous casualties (only partly given), the total Confederate force on the 14th would appear to be 43,500, of which 15,000 were at Harper's Ferry, on the Virginia side, and 28,500 in Maryland.--- EDITORS.
shows what he would have done had he been in command of the Federal army. But the American soldier preferred to do sure work rather than brilliant work, his natural caution being increased by the carping criticisms of his enemies.
Upon the fall of Garland, Colonel McRae, of the 5th North Carolina regiment, assumed command, and ordered the two regiments on the left to close in to the right. This order either was not received or it was found to be impossible of execution. The main attack was on the 23d North Carolina behind the stone-wall. The Federals had a plunging fire upon this regiment from the crest of a hill, higher than the wall, and only about fifty yards from it. The 12th North Carolina, a badly trained regiment, on that day under the command of a young captain, deserted the field. (4) The 12th Ohio, actuated by a different impulse, made a charge upon Bondurant's battery and drove it off, failing, however, to capture it. The 30th Ohio advanced directly upon the stone-wall in their front, while a regiment moved upon the 23d North Carolina on each flank. Some of the 30th Ohio forced through a break in the wall, and bayonets and clubbed muskets were used freely for a few moments. Garland's brigade, demoralized by his death and by the furious assault on its center, now broke in confusion and retreated behind the mountain, leaving some two hundred prisoners of the 5th, 23d, and 20th North Carolina in the hands of the enemy. The brigade was too roughly handled to be of any further use that day. Rosser retired in better order, not, however, without having some of his men captured, and took up a position from which he could still fire upon the old road, and which he held until 10 o'clock that night.
General Cox, having beaten the force in his front, now showed a disposition to carry out General Pleasonton's instructions, and advance to the Mountain House by the road running south from it on the summit of the mountain. There was nothing to oppose him. My other three brigades had not come up ; Colquitt"s could not be taken from the pike except in the last extremity. So two guns were run down from the Mountain House and opened a brisk fire on the advancing foe. A line of dismounted staff-officers, couriers, teamsters, and cooks was formed behind the guns to give the appearance of battery supports. I do not remember ever to have experienced a feeling of greater loneliness. It seemed as though we were deserted by "all the world and the rest of mankind." Some of the advancing Federals encountered Colquitt's skirmishers under Captain Arnold, and fell back to their former positions.
(4) Mr. R. V. Minor, of Oxford, North Carolina, a member of the 12th North Carolina regiment, writes to the editors that on the morning of the 14th of September his regiment numbered seventy- two men, and that they advanced along the mountain crest until they were in the midst of enemies. The commander, an inexperienced captain, then gave the order to "fire and fall back." The order was obeyed, but the fire was returned so promptly, at close range, that the withdrawal was attended with confusion. However, "thirty or forty" members of the 12th regiment halted on the line of the 13th North Carolina, of their own (Garland's) brigade. Lieutenant-Colonel T. Ruffin, Jr., commander of the 13th regiment, says in his report: " I feel it to be just that I should acknowledge the fact that we were joined by a small party of the 12th North Carolina regiment early in the morning, who continued with us throughout the day and rendered us very efficient aid."
General Cox seems not to have suspected that the defeat of Garland had cleared his front of every foe. He says in his report: " The enemy withdrew their battery to a new position on a ridge more to the front and right, forming their infantry in support and moving columns toward both our flanks."
It was more than half an hour after the utter rout and dispersion of Garland's brigade when G. B. Anderson arrived at the head of his small but fine body of men. (5) He made an effort to recover the ground lost by Garland, but failed and met a serious repulse. General Cox says of this attack: " The enemy made several attempts to retake the crest, advancing with great obstinacy and boldness."
Under the strange illusion that there was a large Confederate force on the mountain, the Federals withdrew to their first position in the morning to await the arrival of the other three divisions of Reno's corps. Willcox's arrived about noon, and Sturgis's and Rodman's between 3 and 4 o'clock, but there was no advance until 5 P. M. The falling back of Cox's division is alluded to by Colonel Ewing of Scammon's brigade and by Major Lyman J. Jackson of Crook's brigade. The former says: "We fell back to the original position until the general advance at 5 P. M." Major Jackson, after speaking of fighting the enemy behind a stone-wall With the cooperation of two other regiments, adds: "We then fell back to the hillside in the open fields, where we were out of reach of their guns, and remained here with the rest of our brigade until an advance was made against the enemy by the Pennsylvania and Rhode island troops on our right."
After the arrival of his whole corps General Reno arranged his line of battle as follows : Cox's division on the left, resting on the batteries already in position ; Willcox's on the right, supported by the division of Sturgis. Rodman's division was divided; Fairchild's brigade was sent to the extreme left to support the batteries, and Harland's was placed on the extreme right.
In the meantime Rodes and Ripley, of my division, reported to me for orders. Rodes was sent With his brigade of twelve hundred men to a commanding knoll north of onal road. Ripley was directed to attach himself to G. B. Anderson's left. Anderson, being thus strengthened, and finding there was no enemy in his immediate front, sent out the 2d and 4th North Carolina regiments of his brigade on a reconnaissance to the front, right, and rear. Captain E. A. Osborne, commanding the skirmishers of the 4th North Carolina, discovered a brigade in an old field south of Fox's Gap, facing toward the turnpike and supporting a battery With its guns turned in the same direction. Captain Osborne hastened back to Colonel Grimes, commanding the regiment, and told him that they could deliver a flank fire upon the brigade before it could change its position to meet them. But a Federal (5) General Hill in his official report thus describes the posting of his forces after the defeat of Garland: "There were two mountain roads practicable for artillery on the right of the main turn- pike. The defense of the farther one had cost Garland his life. It was now intrusted to Colonel Rosser of the cavalry, who had reported to me, and who had artillery and dismounted sharp- shooters. General Anderson was intrusted with the care of the nearest and best road. Bondurant's battery was sent to aid him in its defense. The brigade of Colquitt was disposed on each side of the turnpike, and that with Lane's battery was judged adequate to the task. There was, however, a solitary peak on the left, which, if gained by the Yankees, would give them control of the ridge commanding the turnpike. I had a large number of guns from Cutts's artillery placed upon the hill . . . to sweep the approaches. . . Rodes and Ripley came up soon after Anderson."--- EDITORS.
The fights of September 14th were so distinct as to time and place, and the positions of the troops were so often changed. that any single map would be misleading without analysis: (1) The early morning fight was mostly on the south side of Fox's Gap, between Cox's two Union brigades and Garland's brigade, the letter being assisted on its left by a part of Colquitt's brigade which was at Turner's Gap. By 10 o'clock Garland had been killed and his brigade routed. (2) Then Cox encountered G. B. Anderson's arriving brigade, repulsed it. and fell back to his position in the morning. (S) G. B. Anderson was then posted at Fox's Gap on both sides of the old Sharps- burg road. D. H. Hill's two other brigades came up toward noon, Ripley being joined to G. B. Anderson, and Rodes being sent to occupy a hill on the north side of Turner's Gap, near where Garnett is placed on the map. (4) About 2 o'clock, on the Union side, Cox's division was reenforced by the arriving divisions of Willcox, Sturgis, and Rodman: and Hooker's corps of three divisions was moving north of the National road by way of Mount Tabor Church (Hooker's headquarters) to flank the Confederate left. About the same time D. H. Hill's brigades at Fox's Gap were reenforced by Longstreet's brigades of G. T. Anderson, Drayton, Law, and Hood: and north of Turner's Gap three of Rodes's four regiments were sent still farther to the left. The defense was afterward strengthened by the posting of Longstreet's brigades of Garnett and Kemper. supported by Jenkins, on the hill first held by Rodes. Evans's brigade arrived later, and was of assistance to Rodes when the latter had been thrown back by Meade's flank movement. (5) The last severe engagements began at both gaps after 3 o'clock and lasted until after dark. Colquitt and Gibbon, in the center, joined desperately in the battle.--- EDITORS.
scout had seen the captain, and the brigade was the first to open fire. The fight was, of course, brief, the regiment beating a hasty retreat. The brigade halted at the edge of the woods' probably believing that there was a concealed foe somewhere in the depths of the forest. This Federal brigade was, possibly, Benjamin C. Christ's of Willcox's division ---the same which had made the successful flank movement in the previous fight. (6)
(6) This engagement is not mentioned by Cox, Willcox, or Christ. The Union brigade was more probably that of Colonel H. S. Fairchild, Rodman's division. ---EDITORS. About 3: 30 P. M, the advance of Longstreet's command arrived and reported to me---one brigade under Colonel G. T. Anderson and one under General Drayton. They were attached to Ripley's left, and a forward movement was ordered. In half an hour or more I received a note from Ripley saying that he was progressing finely; so he was, to the rear of the mountain on the west Side. Before he returned the fighting was over, and his brigade did not fire a shot that day. (7) The Federal commander intrusted to General Burnside the management of the fight, but under his own eyes; Burnside ordered a general advance on both sides of the pike. The First Corps, under Hooker, was to attack on the north side of the National road, while the Ninth Corps, under Reno, was to move forward, as before, on the south side. Hooker's corps consisted of 3 divisions, 10 brigades, or 42 regiments, With 10 batteries of artillery and a battalion of cavalry. General Meade, a division commander, had under him the brigades of Seymour, Magilton, and Gallagher, containing 13 regiments with 4 batteries attached. General Hatch, division commander, had under him the brigades of Doubleday, Phelps, Patrick, and Gibbon---17 regiments and 4 batteries. General Ricketts, division com mander, had under him the brigades of Duryea, Christian, and Hartsuff---12 regiments and 2 batteries. From the nature of the ground, none of the artillery of Hooker's corps could be used, except that which went directly up the pike with Gibbon's brigade and one battery (Cooper's) on the enemy's right.
The hour for the general advance is not specified in the reports. Some of the Federal officers, as we have seen, speak of the general advance at 5 P. M. General Sturgis says that he became engaged on the south side of the pike at 3:30 P. M. General Meade, on the north side, says that he moved toward the right at 2 P. M., (8) while General Ricketts, who took part in the same movement, says that he did not arrive at the foot of the mountain until 5 P. M. If General Mtaken as to the time of his starting, he must have been long delayed in the thick woods through which the first part of his march was made.
(7) In "The Century" magazine for December, 1886, page 308, was printed a letter from William L. De Rosset, Colonel of the 3d North Carolina regiment, in which, after stating that General Hill disclaims any intention of reflecting on Ripley's brigade in this statement, the writer says:"
"The facts are these: He [General Hill] correctly states Ripley's maneuvers at Boonsboro, until we reached a position at the foot of the mountain,--- on the west side,---when General Ripley said to me that we were entirely cut off from the rest of the army, except G. B. Anderson's brigade, which was on our right. and that he assumed the command of the two brigades. directing me to take command of the three regiments (Colonel Doles, with his 4th Georgia, having been detached and sent to a position on fire north of the pike), and that he would remain near me, directing me at the same time to advance slowly up the mountain with a strong line of skirmishers in front. Upon reaching the summit, after toiling through the dense undergrowth of laurel. Captain Thurston, in command of the skirmish Line, reported troops in his front, a few minutes later confirming his first impression that they were G. B. Anderson's brigade, presenting their flank and advancing toward his left. This was promptly reported through my adjutant to General Ripley. who directed me to withdraw to my original position, which having been accomplished, I was directed to hold my then position until further orders. After nightfall I moved forward, changing front to the left, a short distance, to the support of General Drayton, remaining there, without drawing trigger, until we took up the line of march for Sharpsburg, about 10 to 12 at night. While, there- fore, we accomplished nothing tangible, we were in position to do any duty for which we might be called." EDITORS. (8)This is the hour at which General Meade says he received the order to move to the front, from the point where his division was halted beyond Middletown, at Catoctin creek. Meade turned right, followed the old Hagerstown road to Mount Tabor Church, and then formed line at the foot of the mountain foe the climb. Cooper's battery opened fire at 3:30. Hatch followed Meade, and Ricketts moved last.---EDITORS.
Here is probably the best place to explain the extraordinary caution of the Federals, which seemed so mysterious to us on that 14th of September. An order of General Lee, made while at Frederick, directing Jackson to capture Harper's Ferry, and Longstreet and myself to go to Boonsboro', had fallen into the hands of the Federals, and had been carried to General McClellan. This order (known at the South as the Lost Dispatch) was addressed to me, but I proved twenty years ago that it could not have been lost through my neglect or carelessness. (9) The Federal commander gained two facts from the order, one of which was needless and the other misleading. He learned that Jack- son had gone to Harper's Ferry --- a truth that he must have learned from his own scouts and spies and the roar of artillery in his own ears: the cannonading could be distinctly heard at Frederick, and it told that some one was beleaguering Harper's Ferry. The misleading report was that Longstreet was at Boonsboro. (10) The map of the battle-field of South Mountain, prepared in 1872, ten years after the fight, by the United States Bureau of Engineers, represents ten regiments and one battalion under Longstreet at the foot of the mountain on the morning of the 14th of September, 1862. But Longstreet was then an ordinary day's march from that point. In fact, after the removal of Colquitt's brigade, about 7 A. M., there was not a Southern soldier at the foot of the mountain until 3 P M., when Captain Park of the 12th Alabama Regiment was sent there with forty men. General McClellan in his report says: "It is believed that the force opposed to us at Turner's Gap consisted of D. H. Hill's corps (fifteen thousand) and a part if not the whole of Longstreet's, and perhaps a portion of Jackson's'--- probably thirty thousand in all." (" Official Records," Volume XIX., Pt. I., p. 53.) The mistake of the Federal commander in regard to General Longstreet was natural, since he was misled by the Lost Dispatch. But it seems strange that the United States Engineers should repeat the blunder, with the light of history thrown for ten years upon all the incidents of the battle. It was incomprehense losing side that the men who charged us so boldly and repulsed our attacks so successfully should let slip the fruits of victory and fall back as though defeated. The prisoners taken were from my division, but the victors seemed to think that Longstreet's men lay hidden somewhere in the depths of those mysterious forests. Thus it was that a thin line of men extending for miles along the crest of the mountain could afford protection for so many hours to Lee's trains and artillery and could delay the Federal advance until Longstreet's command did come up, and, joining with mine, saved the two wings of the army from being cut in two. But for the mistake about the position of our forces, McClellan could have captured Lee's trains and artillery and interposed between Jackson and Longstreet before noon on that 14th of September. The losing of the dispatch was the saving of Lee's army.
(9)In a letter to the editors, dated February 24th, 1888, General Hill says: "I went into Maryland under Jackson's command. I was under his command when Lee's order was issued. It was proper that I should receive that order through Jackson and not through Lee. I have now before me the order received from Jackson.... My adjutant-general made affidavit, twenty years ago, that no order was received at our office from General Lee. But an order from Lee's office, directed to me, was lost and fell into McClellan's hands. Did the courier lose it? Did Lee's own staff- officers lose it? I do not know." .---EDITORS.
(10) "Special Orders No. 191," which was the "lost order," sent Longstreet to Boonsboro'. It was afterward modified by General Lee so as to place Longstreet at Hagerstown.--- EDITORS.
About 4 P. M. I saw what appeared to be two Federal brigades emerge from the woods south of Colquitt's position and form in an open field nearly at right angles to each other---one brigade facing toward the pike, and the other facing the general direction of the mountain. This inverted V-like formation was similar to that of the 1st Mississippi Regiment at Buena Vista. If it was made anywhere else during the Civil War, I never heard of it. The V afforded a fine target from the pike, and I directed Captain Lane to open on it With his battery. His firing was Wild' not a shot hitting the mark. The heavy batteries promptly replied, showing such excellent practice that Lane's guns were soon silenced. A small force in the edge of the woods on the west side of the old field opened fire upon the V. The Federals changed their formation, and, advancing in line of battle, brushed away their assailants and plunged into the woods, when heavy firing began which lasted possibly half an hour.
I suppose that the Federal force which I saw was the division of General Sturgis, (11) and that he left behind Harland's brigade of Rodman's division to guard his flank in his advance, since Harland reports that he had no casualties. General Sturgis claims that he swept everything before him. So do his comrades who fought on his left. On the other hand, General Hood, who came up a short time before this advance, with the brigades of Wofford and Law, claims that he checked and drove back the Federals. G. T. Anderson reports that only his skirmishers were engaged. The surviving officers under G. B. Anderson (who was killed at Sharpsburg, and left no report) say that the same thing was true of their brigade in the afternoon. Ripley's brigade was not engaged at all. About dusk the 2d and 13th North Carolina Regiments attacked Fairchild's brigade and the batteries protected by it on the extreme Federal left, and were repulsed disastrously. Generals Burnside and Willcox say that the fight was continued until 10 o'clock at night, then, in thinking that he had driven back the Federal advance. The opposing lines were close together at nightfall, and the firing between the skirmishers was kept up till a late hour. Equally erroneous is the claim that any Confederates were driven except Drayton's small brigade. We held the crests of the mountain, on the National road and the old Sharpsburg road, until Lee's order for withdrawal was given. General Reno, the Federal corps commander on our right, was killed at 7 P. M., in Wise's field, where the fight began at 9 o'clock in the morning. But on our left a commanding hill was lost before night. Batteries placed upon it next morning, acting in concert With the heavy batteries placed on our right by General Pleasonton before we were aware of his presence, would have made any position untenable on the pike or the crest of the mountain. I made that statement to General Lee about 9 P. M., when he consulted with Longstreet and myself in regard to renewing the fight the next morning. Longstreet concurred in this view, remarking that I knew the ground and the situation better than he did.
(11) Probably Willcox's division, with its right, refused to avoid the enfilading fire from the batteries on the mountain.--- EDITORS.
General Hooker detached Gibbon's brigade, consisting of three Wisconsin regiments and one Indiana regiment, from Hatch's division, and directed it to move directly up the pike with a section of artillery. Then the divisions of Meade and Hatch were formed on the north side of the pike, With the division of Ricketts in supporting distance in rear. A belt of woods had to be passed through, and then it was open field all the way to the summit, and the two detached peaks were in full view upon which the devoted little band of Rodes was posted--- the 12th Alabama Regiment on one, and the 3d 5th, 6th, and 26th Alabama regiments on the other. Under the illusion that there were ten regiments and one battalion of Longstreet's command in those woods, the progress through them was slow, but, when once cleared, the advance was steady and made almost with the precision of movement of a parade day. Captain Robert E. Park, of Macon, Georgia, who commanded the forty skirmishers in the woods, thinks that he delayed the Federal advance for a long time.(12) It is not more improbable that a few active skirmishers north of the pike should prove an obstacle to progress through the forest there, than that a (12) Captain Park writes:
"After passing through Boonsboro', en routs to the scene of action, we met the dead body of the gallant General Garland, when an order from General D. H. Hill, through General R. E. Rodes, to Colonel B. B. Gayle of the 12th Alabama, directed that skirmishers should be deployed in front. Colonel Gayle hurriedly ordered captains of companies to send four men each to the front to report to Lieutenant R. E. Park as sharpshooters, and I promptly reported for orders : was directed to carry my squad of forty men to the foot of South Mountain, 'and keep the enemy back as long as possible.' I hastily deployed the men, and we moved down the mountain-side. On our way down we could see the enemy, in two lines of battle, in the valley below, advancing, preceded only a few steps by their dense line of skirmishers. I concealed my men behind trees, rocks, and bushes, and cautioned them to aim well before firing. We awaited with beating hearts the sure and steady approach of the 'Pennsylvania Bucktails,' who were directly in my front, and soon near enough to fire upon. I gave the command, 'Fire,' and forty guns were almost simultaneously emptied with deadly effect, and the surviving skirmishers rushed back pell-mell to their main line, disordering it greatly. The solid, well-drilled Line soon rallied, and advanced steadily forward, and my small party, as soon as they were near enough, fired again, and nearly every bullet did fatal work. At least thirty men must have been killed or wounded at the second fire, and perhaps more at the first. Though checked for some minutes, the enemy again advanced, their officers earnestly exhorting them with 'close up' and 'forward.' I directed my men to fall back slowly, and to fire from everything which would screen them from observation. I had lost only four men wounded up to this time, but six or eight more became demoralized and, despite my commands, entreaties, and threats, left me and hastily fled to the rear. With the brave squad which remaid slowly, firing as rapidly as we could load, and doing fatal work with every step. The advance was very slow and cautious. It was about 5 o'clock when we had opened fire at the foot of the mountain, and now the sun was rapidly setting. Corporal Myers, of Mobile, at my request, aimed at and shot an exposed officer, receiving himself a terrible wound as he did so. I raised him tenderly, gave him water, and reluctantly was about to abandon him to his fate, when a dozen muskets were pointed at me, and I was ordered to surrender. There was a deep ravine to our left, and the ad Alabama skirmishers having fallen back, the Federals had got in my rear, and at the same time had closed upon me in front. If I bad not stopped with Myers I might have escaped capture, but I was mortified and humiliated by the necessity of yielding myself a prisoner. Certain death was the only alternative. The enemy pushed forward after my capture, and carne upon Colonel Gayle and the rear support. Colonel Gayle was ordered to surrender, but, drawing his pistol and firing it in their faces, he exclaimed: 'We are flanked, boys, but let's die in our tracks.' and continued to fire until he was literally riddled by bullets.
"I was accompanied to the rear by three Federal soldiers, and could but notice, as I walked down the mountain, the great execution done by my little squad as shown by the dead and wounded lying all along the route. At the foot of the mountain ambulances were being loaded. From what I saw and gathered from my captors, my little party committed fearful havoc, and the Federals imagined that several divisions of Lee's army confronted them.... I was carried before some prominent officer (have heard it was General Hatch), who questioned me about my regiment, brigade, division, number of troops, etc. The information I gave could not have benefitted him much." D. H. H. division on the south side should hesitate to penetrate a forest from which their foes had been completely driven. The success of the Federals on the north side was due to the fact that after getting through the belt of woods at the foot of the mountain, they saw exactly what was before them. The lack of complete success south of the pike was owing to the thick woods on that side, which were supposed to be full of hidden enemies. In the battle of South Mountain the imaginary foes of the Lost Dispatch were worth more to us than ten thousand men.
The advance of Hatch's division in three lines, a brigade in each' was as grand and imposing as that of Meade's division. Hatch's general and field officers were on horseback, his colors were all flying, and the alignment of his men seemed to be perfectly preserved. General Hooker, looking at the steady and precise movement from the foot of the mountain, describes it as a beautiful sight. From the top of the mountain the sight was grand and sublime, but the elements of the pretty and the picturesque did not enter into it. Doubtless the Hebrew poet whose idea of the awe-inspiring is expressed by the phrase, "terrible as an army with banners," had his view of the enemy from the top of a mountain.
There was not a single Confederate soldier to oppose the advance of General Hatch. I got some guns from the reserve artillery of Colonel Cutts to fire at the three lines; but owing to the little practice of the gunners and to the large angles of depression, the cannonade was as harmless as blank-cartridge salutes in honor of a militia general. While these ineffective missiles were flying, which the enemy did not honor by so much as a dodge, Longstreet came up in person with three small brigades, and assumed direction of affairs. He sent the brigade of Evans under Colonel Stevens to the aid of Rodes's men, sorely pressed and well-nigh exhausted. The brigade of Pickett (under Garnett) and that of Kemper were hurried forward to meet and check Hatch, advancing, hitherto, without opposition.
General Meade had moved the brigade of Seymour to the right to take Rodes's position in reverse, while the brigades of Magilton and Gallagher went straight to the front. Meade was one of our most dreaded foes; he was always in deadly earnest, and he eschewed all trifling. He had under him brigade commanders, officers, and soldiers worthy of his leadership. In his onward sweep the peak upon which the 12th Alabama was posted was passed, the gallant Colonel Gayle was killed, and his regiment was routed and dispersed. The four other regiments of Rodes made such heroic resistance that Meade, believing his division about to be flanked, sent for and obtained Duryea's brigade of Ricketts's division. It was pitiable to see the gallant but hopeless struggle of those Alabamians against such mighty odds. Rodes claimed to have fought for three hours without support; but an over-estimate of time under such circumstances is usual and natural. He lost 61 killed, 157 wounded, and 204 missing (captured), or more than one-third of his brigade. His supports [Evans's brigade] fought gallantly and saved him from being entirely surrounded, but they got on the ground too late to effect anything else. Evans's brigade under Stevens had been wasted by two campaigns and was small when it left Hagerstown that morning, and many had fallen out on the hot and dusty forced march. Of the four regiments in the brigade, we find in Volume XIX. of the " Official Records " only the report of one, the 17th South Carolina regiment under Colonel McMaster. That says that 141 men entered the fight on South Mountain, and of these 7 are reported killed, 37 wounded, and 17 missing (captured). Colonel McMaster writes to me that his was the largest regiment in the brigade; so the brigade must have been about 550 strong. General Meade says in his report that he lost 397 men, or ten per cent. of his division. As he received the support of Duryea before or about the time that Rodes got the aid of Stevens, he fought Rodes with the advantage all the while of three to one.
When Ripley came up as before described, the pressure was all at Fox's Gap, He was sent in there and his brigade was uselessly employed by him in marching and counter-marching. Had it been sent to strengthen Rodes the key of the position might not have been lost. But the vainest of all speculations and regrets are about "the might have been." Meade encamped that night on the commanding eminence which he had won.
The strength of the two brigades sent to check General Hatch did not exceed eight hundred men, as I will show presently. They must have performed prodigies of valor, and their praises can best be spoken in the words of their enemies. General Patrick, commanding the leading Federal brigade, tells of a race between his men and a strong force of the enemy for the possession of a fence. Patrick won the race and delivered his fire from the fence, picking off the cannoneers at some of our guns, General Hatch was wounded at this fence, and the command devolved on General Doubleday. The latter speaks of lying down behind the fence and allowing the enemy to charge up to within fifteen paces, whereupon he opened a deadly fire. Colonel Wainwright, who succeeded Doubleday in command of his brigade, was also wounded here, and Colonel Hofmann asked command of it. Colonel Hofmann tells us that the ammunition of the brigade was just giving out when Ricketts relieved Doubleday. Several of the reports speak of the "superior force of the enemy." General Rickett's says that "he relieved Doubleday hard-pressed and nearly out of ammunition." Before Ricketts came in person with Hartsuff's brigade, he had sent Christian's brigade to the assistance of Doubleday. The brigades of Kemper and Pickett (the latter under Garnett) just have fought valiantly, else such results could not have been achieved. General Doubleday's report contains this curious story: "I learned from a wounded prisoner that we were engaged with four to five thousand under the immediate command of General Pickett, with heavy masses in their vicinity. He stated also that Longstreet in vain tried to rally the men, calling them his pets and using every effort to induce them to renew the attack." Of course, the old rebel knew that Pickett was not there in person and that there were no heavy masses in the vicinity. The astonishing thing is that General Doubleday should believe that there were 4000 or 5000 men before him under the immediate command of Pickett. But Doubleday's belief of the story is a tribute to the efficiency of the 800 men who fought a division of 3500 men (the number reported by Hatch after Gibbon had been detached), and fought it so vigorously that two brigades were sent to its assistance. Jenkins's brigade, under Walker, came up at dusk, too late to be in the fight; but it went in on the right of Garnett and took part in the irregular firing which was kept up till a late hour. Colonel Walker's report shows a loss of 3 killed and 29 wounded, which proves that he was but slightly engaged. The tired men of both sides lay down at last to rest within a hundred yards of each other. But now Gibbon was putting in earnest work on the pike. He had a choice brigade, strong in numbers and strong in the pluck of his men, all from the North-west, where habitually good fighters are reared. He had pushed forward cautiously in the afternoon with the 7th Wisconsin regiment, followed by the 6th on the north side of the pike and the 19th Indiana, supported by the 2d Wisconsin, on the south side. The ten imaginary regiments of the Lost d his progress through the woods; and at one time, believing that the 7th Wisconsin was about to be turned on its right flank, he sent the 6th to its assistance. There were only a few skirmishers on his right, but the Lost Dispatch made him believe otherwise. About 9 P. M. the stone-wall was reached, and several gallant efforts were made in vain to carry it. When each repulse was followed by the "rebel" yells, the young men on my staff would cry out: "Hurrah for Georgia! Georgia is having a free fight." The Western men had met in the 23d and 28th Georgia regiments men as brave as themselves and far more advantageously posted. Colonel Bragg, of the 6th Wisconsin, says in his report: "We sat down in the dark to wait another attack, but the enemy was no more seen." At midnight Gorman's brigade of Sumner's corps relieved Gibbon's.
General Gibbon reports officially 318 men killed and wounded---a loss sustained almost entirely, I think, at the stone-wall. The colonel of the 7th Wisconsin reports a loss of 147 men in killed and wounded out of 375 muskets carried into action. This shows that he had brave men and that he encountered brave men. From his report we infer that Gibbon had fifteen hundred men. On our side Colquitt had 1100 men, and lost less than 100, owing to the admirable position in which he had been placed.
And now in regard to the numbers engaged. Longstreet sent to my aid 8 brigades,---5 belonging to the division of D. R. Jones, consisting of the brigades of Drayton, Pickett, Jenkins, G. T. Anderson, and Kemper; and 3 belonging to an extemporized division of N. G. Evans, including the brigades of Evans, Hood, and Law. On page 886, Part I., Volume XIX. of the "Official Records,' Jones says that after Toombs joined him from Hagerstown, his 6 brigades numbered at Sharpsburg 2430 men; i. e., an average of 405 men to each brigade. Now all Longstreet's officers and men know that the ranks were fuller at Sharpsburg than at South Mountain, because there were more stragglers in the forced march from Hagerstown to the battle-field of the 14th of September than there were casualties in the battle. (13) The above average would give 810 as the number of men in the two brigades which confronted the division of Hatch aided by two brigades from Ricketts. But it is well known that the Virginia brigades were unusually small, because of the heavy draughts upon them for cavalry, artillery, and local service. Between pages 894 and 902, Volume XIX., we have the strength at South Mountain of four of the five regiments of Pickett's brigade given officially,---the 19th Regiment, 150 men; 18th Regiment, 120 men; 56th Regiment, 80 men; 8th Regiment, 34 men. The strength of the other regiment, the 28th, is not given; but, assuming that it was 96, the average of the other four regiments, we have 480 as the number of men in Pickett's brigade at South Mountain. But the report of the colonel of the 56th shows that he was turned off with his 80 muskets, and did not go in with his brigade; so that Garnett had in the battle but 400 of Pickett's men. From Kemper's brigade we have but one report giving the strength of a regiment, and that comes from Colonel Corse of the 17th Virginia. He says that at She officers and 49 privates in his regiment. A calculation based upon this report would show that Kemper's brigade was smaller than Pickett's.
On page 907 we have the only report from Jenkins's brigade which gives any intimation of its strength. There the 1st South Carolina regiment is said to have 106 men at Sharpsburg. It is possible the five regiments of this brigade numbered 530 in that battle. It is true that it was considerably larger at Sharpsburg than at South Mountain, because the stragglers from the Hagerstown march much more than made up for the small loss (32) in the battle of the 14th. But with due allowance for that gain, the brigade must have been 450 strong at South Mountain. It is evident, then, that Kemper's brigade fell below 400 at South Mountain; otherwise, the brigade average in Jones's division would have exceeded 406.
Longstreet thinks that he had four thousand men at South Mountain. His estimate is too high, according to the records as I find them. Accepting (13) In his official report General Hill, after stating his force on the morning of the 14th as " less than 5000 men," says: "My ranks had been diminished by some additional straggling. and the morning of the 17th [Antietam] I lad but 3000 infantry." Adding to this number General Hill's losses on September 14th at Fox's and Turner's Gaps, and we have 3934 as his strength in the battle of South Mountain, without counting these additional stragglers.---EDITORS.
his numbers, I would place 2200 at Fox's Gap and 1800 north of Turner's Gap. Colquitt fought mainly and Rodes entirely with Hooker's corps. Adding the 2200 men of these two brigades to Longstreet's 1800, we have 4000 as the number opposed to Hooker. (14)
General McClellan puts the strength of the two attacking corps at thirty thousand. His figures are substantially corroborated by the reports of his subordinates, ---division, brigade, and regimental commanders. They indicate, moreover, that there had been great straggling in the Federal army, as well as in our own. On p.97, General Ingalls, chief quartermaster, reports, October 1st, 1862, means of transportation for 13,707 men in the First Corps; for 12,860 men in the Ninth Corps... and for 127,818 men in the entire Army of the Potomac.(15) This was after the wastage of the two battles (14th and 17th of September, reported on pge 204 as amounting to 15,203.
(14) According to the estimate of Mr. Thomas White, chief clerk of the adjutant-general's office at General Lee's headquarters, who had charge of the field returns during the war, the effective strength of the Confederate forces at South Mountain, or Boonsboro', was: Longstreet, 8000; D. H. Hill, 7000,---total, 15,000. According to Colonel W. H.. Taylor, adjutant-general of the Army of Northern Virginia, Hill had " less than 5000 "; 6 brigades of Longstreet engaged numbered 4900,--- total, 9900 (with 2 of Longstreet's brigades not engaged and not included).. In his official report, General D. H.. Hill says "the division numbered less than 5000 men on the morning of September 14th"; of his 5 brigades, Rodes's is stated to have numbered 1200, and Garland's " scarce 1000 men." The Union returns quoted show the whole number of officers and men of all arms present for duty without deduction. If to the strength of the First and Ninth Corps on the 20th of September we add the previous losses, these numbers will show as follows: First Corps, 15,750; Ninth Corps, 13,972. Deduct one-fifth, 5944, for non- effectives,---total available Union force, 23,778. Total available Confederate force, according to Mr. White, 5,000; according to Colonel Taylor, 9900, plus the two reserve brigades of Longstreet, whose strength he does not give.--- EDITORS.
(15) The return of the Army of the Potomac for September 30th shows a total present for duty of 98,774 officers and men, including 5714 cavalry and headquarters guard. General Ingalls's statement, partly estimated as shown on its face (he counts cavalry 7000, it being actually 4543), is obviously in error in the figures, 30,926, set down for the Fifth Corps, which the return slows to have had 17,268 for duty, and 31,688 present and absent.---EDITORS.
General Hooker was well pleased with the his report: "When the advantages of the enemy's position are considered, and his preponderating numbers, the forcing of the passage of South Mountain will be classed among the most brilliant and satisfactory achievements of this army, and its principal glory will be awarded to the First Corps." Undoubtedly that corps had gained important positions, but it is difficult to see how 4000 men could preponderate in numbers over 13,707. Hooker's division and brigade commanders, who had been well up under musketry fire, do not speak in such glowing terms of the victory. The reports of the stubborn fighters in the Federal army on both sides of the pike are models of modest propriety. This is especially so With those who bore the heat and burden of the day,--- Meade, Hatch, Cox, Willcox, Scammon, Crook, Gibbon, Ewing, Gallagher, Magilton, Phelps, White, Jackson, Callis, Bragg, and others.
In regard to the casualties of the opposing forces, the losses in wounded were greater on the Federal side than on the Confederate, because the one thin line of the latter fired at the dense masses of the former, sometimes in two lines, and sometimes in three. But from their weakness the Confederates took no prisoners, while they lost over four hundred within the enveloping ranks of their enemies. The revised statement of Federal losses in Volume XIX, gives the casualties in the First Corps as 923; of the Ninth Corps as 889,---total 1812, infantry and artillery; and to this number is added one cavalryman, how killed is not explained.
I lost two Brigadiers and a large number of regimental commanders within three days, so that my division reports are very meager. Of the five brigades, there is a statistical report from that of Rodes alone. By means of a very extensive correspondence I have ascertained the casualties as nearly as they can be reached at this late day:
Longstreet's loss must have been less than mine, as he had but four small brigades seriously engaged, Walker reports only thirty-two casualties in Jenkins's brigade; G. T. Anderson had none. Hood speaks lightly of the fight of the two brigades under him. The exact losses can, however, never be known.
In the foregoing table reference is had to prisoners taken in the battle. Some of our wearied men slipped off in the woods to sleep, and were not aroused when the orders came to fall back. Colonel Parker of the 30th North Carolina regiment, a brave and efficient officer, writes to me that he could hardly keep his men awake even when the deadly missiles were flying among them. This is in confirmation of what General Hood, in charge of the rear-guard, told me when I passed him after daylight on the 15th. He said that he found it difficult to arouse and push on the tired men, who had fallen out by the wayside to get a few minutes' sleep.
If the battle of South Mountain was fought to prevent the advance of McClellan, it was a failure on the part of the Confederates. If it was fought to save Lee's trains and artillery, and to reunite his scattered forces, it was a Confederate success. The former view was taken by the President of the United States, for he telegraphed to General McClellan on the 15th of September: "God bless you and all with you. Destroy the rebel army, if possible."
But, from whatever standpoint it may be looked at, the battle of South Mountain must be of interest to the military reader as showing the effect of a hallucination in enabling 9000 men to hold 30,000 at bay for so many hours, in robbing victory of its fruits, and in inspiring the victors with such caution that a simple ruse turned them back in their triumphal career. Every battle-field of the Civil War beheld the deadly conflict of former friends with each other. South Mountain may be taken as a specimen of this unnatural and horrible state of things. The last time I ever saw Generals McClellan and Reno was in 1848, at the table of General G. W. Smith, in the city of Mexico. Generals Meade and Scammon had both been instructors while I was at West Point. Colonel Magilton, commanding a brigade in Meade's division, had been a lieutenant in my company in the Mexican war. General John Gibbon (whose brigade pressed up the pike on the 14th of September) and his brother Lardner had been "best men" at my wedding. They were from North Carolina; one brother took the Northern side, while the other took the Southern.
There is another view of the picture, however. If we had to be beaten it was better to be beaten by former friends. Every true soldier loves to have "a foeman worthy of his steel." Every true man likes to attribute high qualities to those who were once friends, though now alienated for a time. The temporary estrangement cannot obliterate the recollection of noble traits of character. Some one attempted to condole With Tom Yearwood, a famous old South Carolina bully, upon the beating given him by his own son. "Hush up," said old Tom. "I am glad that no one but my own flesh and blood had a hand in my drubbing."
The sons of the South struck her many heavy blows. Farragut, of Tennessee, rose, as a reward of merit, to the highest rank in the Federal navy. A large number of his associates were from the South. In the Federal army there were of Southern blood and lineage Generals Thomas, Sykes, Reno, Newton, J. J. Reynolds, Canby, Ord, Brannan, William Nelson, Crittenden, Blair, R. W. Johnson, T. J. Wood, N. B. Buford, Terrill, Graham, Davidson' Cooke, Alexander, Getty, French, Frémont, Pope, Hunter. Some of these doubtless served the South better by the side they took; most of them were fine, and some superb, officers.
Moreover, the South had three hundred thousand of her sons in the Federal army in subordinate capacities. (16) Her armies surrendered when a Southern-born President and a Southern-born Vice-President were at the head of the United States Government. That the wounds of defeat and humiliation have been so soon healed has been owing largely to this balm to mortified pride. The sting of shame to Frenchmen is that their magnificent capital was captured by, and their splendid armies were surrendered to, soldiers of an alien race and religion. On the other hand, the civil wars in England have left no bitter memories behind them. Compare this forgetfulness of civil strife in England With the bitterness which Ireland still feels over her subjugation; compare it with the fact that the Roman occupation of England for five hundred years made no impression upon the language of the natives, so little intercourse was there between them and their conquerors; compare it with the fact that for four hundred years after the Norman conquest there was no fusion between the Norman and Saxon tongues. In truth, all history teaches that the humiliation of defeat by a foreign foe is felt for ages, while that of defeat by the same race is temporary and soon forgotten. The late Civil War was relieved of very much of its sectional character by the presence of so many Southerners in the Union armies. Therefore, it will be in the United States as in all the unsectional civil wars of the world's history in which race and religion were not involved,---the waves of oblivion will roll over the bitter recollections of the strife. But we trust that fragrant forever will be the memory of deeds of heroism, patriotism, and constancy to principle, whether those deeds were performed by the wearers of the blue or of the gray.
By Wm. B. Franklin, Major-General, U.S.V.
BETWEEN the 2d and 6th of September, the Sixth Corps remained in camp near Alexandria and collected horses and transportation for ammunition and provisions, which were gradually disembarked. On the latter date it marched to Tenallytown, beyond Georgetown, D. C., crossing the Potomac by the Long Bridge, and beginning the Maryland campaign. Its daily marches thereafter, to the date of the battle of Antietam, were regulated by orders from General McClellan, who, in turn, was in direct communication with Washington. It appears from the telegraphic correspondence which was carried on between Halleck and McClellan, that while the latter believed that General Lee's object was the invasion of Pennsylvania, the former could not divest himself of the notion that Lee was about to play the Union army some slippery trick by turning its left, getting between it and Washington and Baltimore, and then taking each city by a coup-de-main.
The following are extracts from some of General Halleck's dispatches:
SEPT. 9.---". . . I think we must be very cautious about stopping too much the forts on the Virginia side. It may be the enemy's object to draw off the mass of our forces, and then attempt to attack from the Virginia side of the Potomac."
SEPT. 11.--" I think the main force of the enemy's in your front; more troops can be spared from here."
SEPT. 13.--"I am of opinion that the enemy will send a small column toward Pennsylvania, so as to draw your forces in that direction; then suddenly move on Washington with the forces south of the Potomac, and those he may cross over."
^ General McClellan states that he received the dispatch in this form, but as printed in the "Official Records," Vol. XIX., Pt. II., p. 253, the sentence reads: "If the main force of the enemy is in your front, more troops can be spared from here."--EDITORS.
SEPT. 14.---" Scouts report a large force still on Virginia side of the Potomac, near Leesburg, If so, I fear you are exposing your left flank, and that the enemy can cross in your rear."
SEPT. 16.---"I fear now more than ever that they [the enemy] will recross at Harper's Ferry, or below, and turn your left, thus cutting you off from Washington. . . ." On September 12th, Mr. Lincoln telegraphed General McClellan that he believed the enemy was recrossing the Potomac, and said, "Please do not let him get off without being hurt." These dispatches demonstrate that it was McClellan's duty as a subordinate to move slowly and cautiously in his advance, although he believed that the whole of Lee's army was in his front. And during the whole Maryland campaign his army was nearer Washington than was Lee's.
On or before September 7th, General McClellan advised that Harper's Ferry should be evacuated via Hagerstown, so as to hold the Cumberland Valley against an advance toward Harrisburg, and on the 10th of September he asked that the garrison at Harper's Ferry should be ordered to join him. General Halleck in answer to the last request stated, " There is no way for Colonel Miles to join you at present; his only chance is to defend his works till you can open communication with him." Yet during the night of September 14th two regiments of cavalry marched out of Harper's Ferry to Hagerstown without meeting any enemy; and the whole infantry and field-artillery force of the garrison might have escaped before the 14th had General McClellan's advice of September 7th and 10th been followed. So the Sixth Corps moved by easy marches toward the Blue Ridge, under daily orders from the commanding general, and on the 14th of September fought the battle of Crampton's Gap, gaining the completest victory gained up to that time by any part of the Army of the Potomac.
While Burnside and Hooker were forcing Turner's Gap to open the direct road to Hagerstown, I was ordered to move by Crampton's Gap, five miles farther south, and gain Rohrersville, in order to cut off McLaws and R. H, Anderson on Maryland Heights, and to relieve Harper's Ferry. About noon on the 14th of September, the head of my column, Slocum's din Munford's brigade of cavalry, comprising the 2d and 12th Virginia regiments, with Chew's battery and a section of the Portsmouth battery of naval howitzers, supported by two regiments of Mahone's brigade of R. H. Anderson's division, under Colonel William A. Parham. General McLaws had also posted the remainder of Mahone's brigade and the brigades of Semmes and Cobb of his own division within supporting distance, and ordered General Howell Cobb to take command and to hold the pass against us. With the remainder of Anderson's division and his own, General McLaws occupied Maryland Heights, distant five miles. I quote from my official report of the action which ensued: "The enemy was strongly posted on both sides of the road, which made a steep ascent through a narrow defile, wooded on both sides and offering great advantages of cover and position. Their advance was posted near the base of the mountain, in the rear of a stone-wall, stretching to the right of the road at a point where the ascent was gradual and for the most part over open fields. Eight guns had been stationed on the road and at points on the sides and summit of the mountain to the left of the pass. It was evident that the position could be carried only by an infantry attack. Accordingly, I directed Major-General Slocum to advance his division through the village of Burkittsville and commence the attack upon the right. Wolcott's 1st Maryland Battery was stationed on the left and to the rear of the village, and maintained a steady fire on the positions of the enemy until they were assailed and carried by our troops. Smith's division was placed in reserve on the east side of the village, and held in readiness to cooperate with General Slocum or support his attack as occasion might require. Captain Ayres's battery of this division was posted on a commanding ground to the left of the reserves, and kept up an uninterrupted fire on the principal battery of the enemy until the latter was driven from its position.
"The advance of General Slocum was made with admirable steadiness through a well-directed fire from the batteries on the mountain, the brigade of Colonel Bartlett taking the lead, and followed at proper intervals by the brigades of General Newton and Colonel Torbert. Upon fully determining the enemy's position, the Skirmishers were withdrawn and Colonel Bartlett became engaged along his entire line. He maintained his ground steadily under a severe fire for some time at a manifest disadvantage, until reenforced by two regiments of General Newton's brigade upon his right, and the brigade of Colonel Torbert and the two remaining regiments of Newton's on his left. The line of battle thus formed, an immediate charge was ordered, and most gallantly executed. The men swept forward with a cheer, over the stone-wall, dislodging the enemy, and pursuing him up the mountain-side to the crest of the hill and down the opposite slope. This single charge, sustained as it was over a great distance, and on a rough ascent of unusual steepness, was decisive. The enemy was driven in the utmost confusion from a position of strength and allowed no opportunity for even an attempt to rally, until the pass was cleared and in the possession of our troops.
"When the division under General Slocum first became actively engaged, I directed General Brooks's brigade, of Smith's division, to advance upon the left of the road and dislodge the enemy from the woods upon Slocum's flank. The movement was promptly and steadily made under a severe artillery fire. General Brooks occupied the woods after a slight resistance, and then advanced, simultaneously with General Slocum, rapidly and in good order, to the crest of the mountain. The victory was complete, and its achievement followed so rapidly upon the first attack that the enemy's reserves, although pushed forward at the double-quick, arrived but in time to participate in the fight and add confusion to the rout. 400 prisoners, from 17 different organizations, 700 stand of arms, 1 piece of artillery, and 3 stand of colors were captured." . . .
The gun was a 12-pounder howitzer belonging to the Troup artillery attached to Cobb's brigade, and was captured by the 95th Pennsylvania, Colonel Gustavus W. Town, of Newton's brigade. General Cobb says it was "lost by an accident to the axle," but according to Colonel Town's report the artillerists fled before his advance, "merely disabling it temporarily by throwing off one wheel from the limber, which was left with the horses near at hand. Two of the colors were captured by the 4th New Jersey regiment, Colonel William B. Hatch, of Torbert's brigade, and one by the 16th New York, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Joel J. Seaver, of Bartlett's brigade. A fourth stand of colors, belonging to the 16th Virginia regiment, of Mahone's brigade, was taken by the 4th Vermont regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles B. Stoughton, of Brooks's brigade.
No report appears to have made by Colonel Parham, who commanded Mahone's brigade, non commander, General R. H. Anderson' who was wounded at Antietam, but the reports of Generals Cobb and Semmes and Colonel Munford sufficiently indicate the effect of our advance upon the forces under their command. Munford, who had eight guns, his two regiments of cavalry dismounted, and Mahone's brigade, was driven from his position behind a stone-wall at the foot of the pass. Cobb now came to his support, dividing his brigade to the right and left, but too late to change the result. One regiment, the 10th Georgia, of Semmes's brigade, also joined in Parham's defense, while the remaining three regiments, with nine guns of Manly's, Macon's, and Page's batteries, were posted for the defense of Burkittsville Gap, about a mile below toward our left, where the artillery is described, in the Confederate reports, as having done "good service." General Cobb says:
"As I was marching the last of the column, I received a message from you [McLaws] . . . that I must hold the gap if it cost the life of every man in my command. . . . Two of my regiments were sent to the right and two to the left to meet these movements of the enemy. In this we were successful, until the center gave way, pressed by fresh troops of the enemy and increased numbers. Up to this time the troops had fought well and maintained their ground against greatly superior forces. The 10th Georgia regiment, of General Semmes's brigade, had been ordered to the gap from their position at the foot of the mountain and participated in the battle with great courage and energy. After the lines were broken, all my efforts to rally the troops were unsuccessful."
General Semmes, who hurried forward to offer his assistance to General Cobb, thus describes the scene he witnessed on the Confederate side of the crest: "Arriving at the base of and soon after commencing the ascent of the mountain at Crampton's Gap, I encountered fugitives from the battle-field and endeavored to turn them back. Proceeding farther up the mountain, the troops were met pouring down the road and through the wood in great disorder, where I found General Cobb and his staff, at the imminent risk of their lives, using every effort to check and rally them. I immediately joined my efforts, and those of my staff who were with me, to General Cobb's, and cooperated with him for a considerable time in the vain effort to rally the men."
General McLaws moved Wilcox's brigade of R. H. Anderson's' and later Kershaw's and Barksdale's brigades of his own division, to the support of Cobb, but not in time to take part in the engagement. The report of General McLaws shows that he accurately appreciated the effect of our success in completely shutting up his command on Maryland Heights until the surrender of Harper's Ferry opened the door for him to cross into Virginia. Accepting the estimate of Mr. Thomas White, who was chief clerk in the adjutant- general's office at General Lee's headquarters, and had charge of the returns, the whole available force under McLaws was 8000 men, and mine, on the basis of the last returns, 12,300. Couch's division (7219 men) of the Fourth Corps did not reach the field of the 14th until the fighting was over, and was detached from my command early the next morning. But these figures are at least one-fifth, if not one-fourth, beyond the actual effective strength. General Cobb estimates the Confederate forces actually engaged at 2200. Mine can hardly have exceeded 6500; heavy odds, indeed, but so are stone walls and a steep mountain pass. My losses were 533. The losses in Parham's (Mahone's) brigade, spoken of as heavy, are not reported; those in Cobb's and Semmes's brigades are given as 749.
At the end of the fight, after nightfall, the division of the corps which had borne the brunt of the fight (Slocum's), was, as it were, astride of the mountain. Of the other division (Smith's), the brigades of Brooks and Irwin were on the mountain, the reserve under Hancock being at the eastern base. Couch's division reported to me at 10 P. M. ^ Early the next morning, Smith's division was sent into Pleasant Valley, west of the Blue Ridge, to begin the movement toward Harper's Ferry. Couch's division was sent, by order of the commanding general, to occupy Rohrersville. Slocum was to support Smith.
As I was crossing the mountain about 7 A. M., on September 15th, I had a good view of the enemy's force below, which seemed to be well posted on hills stretching across the valley, which is at this place about two miles wide. When I reached General Smith we made an examination of the position, and concluded that it would be suicidal to attack it. The whole breadth of the valley was occupied, and batteries swept the only approaches to the position. We estimated the force as quite as large as ours, and it was in a position which, properly defended, would have required a much greater force than ours to have carried. I am unable to give the numbers, but McLaws, in his report of the operations of the day, states that he formed the line across the valley with the brigades of Kershaw and Barksdale, except one regiment and two guns of the latter, and the "remnants" of the brigades of Cobb, Semmes, Mahone, and Willcox, which he afterward states were very small.
The only force available for an attack would have been Smith's division of about 4500 men, Slocum's division being in no condition for a fight that day. Reading between the lines of General McLaws's report, he seems to have been disgusted that I did not attack before the court of inquiry on the surrender of Harper's Ferry shows that the white flag was shown at 7:30 A. M., on the 15th, and the firing ceased about one hour afterward, it is evident, therefore, that a fight between General McLaws's force and mine could have had no effect upon the surrender of Harper's Ferry. Success on my part would have drawn me farther away from the army and would have brought me in dangerous nearness to Jackson's force, already set free by the surrender. McLaws's supports were three and a half miles from him, while my force was seven miles from the main army.
Later on that day the enemy withdrew from Pleasant Valley and Harper's Ferry toward Sharpsburg. Couch's division joined me, and the corps remained stationary without orders from McClellan until the evening of the 16th, when I was ordered to march the next morning to join the army and to send Couch's division to occupy Maryland Heights. Accordingly the corps started at 5:30 A. M., and the advance reached the field of Antietam at 10 A. M., about twelve miles distant from the starting-point. ^ In October, 1862, when Mr. Lincoln visited the army, he came through Crampton's Gap; he told me that he was astonished to see and bear of what we had done there. He thanked me for it, and said that he had not understood it before. He was in a respects very kind and complementary.---W. B. F.
General Smith's division arrived first and was immediately brought into action in the vicinity of the Dunker Church, repelling a strong attack made by the enemy at this point. The details of the part borne by the corps in the battle are graphically given in the official reports.
While awaiting the arrival of Slocum, I went to the right, held by Sumner. I found him at the head of his troops, but much depressed. He told me that his whole corps was exhausted and could do nothing more that day. It was lying in line of battle partly in a wood from which it had driven the enemy that morning. About three hundred yards in its front, across an open field, was a wood nearer the bank of the river, strongly held by the enemy. The corps had been driven back from an attack on this wood with great loss. When General Slocum arrived I placed two brigades of his division on General Sumner's left and was awaiting the arrival of his third brigade, which was to be in reserve. With the two brigades I intended to make an attack on the wood referred to, and General Sumner was informed of my intention. The two brigades were ready to move. Just as the third brigade arrived, General Sumner rode up and directed me not to make the attack, giving as a reason for his order, that if I were defeated the right would be entirely routed, mine being the only troops left on the right that had any life in them. Major Hammerstein, of McClellan's staff, was near, and I re- quested him to inform General McClellan of the state of affairs, and that I thought the attack ought to be made. Shortly afterward McClellan rode up, and, after hearing the statements of Sumner and myself, decided that as the day had gone so well on the other parts of the line it would be unsafe to risk anything on the right. Of course, no advance was made by the division.
Later in the day General McClellan came again to my headquarters, and there was pointed out to him a hill on the right, commanding the wood, and it was proposed that the hill should be occupied by our artillery early the next morning, and that after shelling the wood, the attack should be made by the whole corps from the position then held by it. He assented to this, and it was understood that the attack was to be made. During the night, however, the order was countermanded. I met him about 9 o'clock on the morning of the 18th. He informed me that he countermanded the order because fifteen thousand Pennsylvania troops would soon arrive, and that upon their arrival the attack would be ordered. The troops, however, did not arrive, and the order was not renewed that day. On the 19th the corps entered the wood, expecting a fight, but the enemy had slipped off during the night.
Source: Battles and Leaders of the Civil War
By Mary Bedinger Mitchell
SEPTEMBER, 1862, was in the skies of the almanac, but August still reigned in ours ; it was hot and dusty. The railroads in the Shenandoah Valley had been torn up, the bridges had been destroyed, communication had been made difficult, and Shepherdstown, cornered by the bend of the Potomac, lay as if forgotten in the bottom of somebody's pocket. We were without news or knowledge, except when some chance traveler would repeat the last wild and uncertain rumor that he had heard. We had passed an exciting summer. Winchester had changed hands more than once; we had been "in the Confederacy " and out of it again, and were now waiting, in an exasperating state of ignorance and suspense, for the next move in the great game.
It was a saying with us that Shepherdstown was just nine miles from everywhere. It was, in fact, about that distance from Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry --- oft-mentioned names --- and from Williamsport, where the armies so often crossed, both to and from Maryland, it was off the direct road between those places and lay, as I said, at the foot of a great sweep in the river, and five miles from the nearest station on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. As no trains were running now, this was of little consequence ; what was more important was that a turnpike road --- unusually fine for that region of stiff, red clay --- led in almost a straight line for thirty miles to Winchester on the south, and stretched northward, beyond the Potomac, twenty miles to Hagerstown. Two years later it was the scene of "Sheridan's ride." Before the days of steam this had been part of the old posting-road between the Valley towns and Pennsylvania, and we had boasted a very substantial bridge. This had been burned early in the war, and only the massive stone piers remained; but a mile and a half down the Potomac was the ford, and the road that led to it lay partly above and partly along the face of rocky and precipitous cliffsand stony, and especially in one place, around the foot of "Mount Misery," was very steep and difficult for vehicles. It was, moreover, entirely commanded by the hills on the Maryland side, but it was the ford over which some part of the Confederate army passed every year, and in 1863 was used by the main body of infantry on the way to Gettysburg. Beyond the river were the Cumberland Canal and its Willow-fringed tow-path, from which rose the soft and rounded outlines of the hills that from their farther slopes looked down upon the battle-field of Antietam. On clear days we could see the fort at Harper's Ferry without a glass, and the flag flying over it, a mere speck against the sky, and we could hear the gun that was fired every evening at sunset.
Shepherdstown's only access to the river was through a narrow gorge, the bed of a small tributary of the Potomac, that was made to do much duty as it slipped cheerily over its rocks and furnished power for several mills and factories, most of them at that time silent. Here were also three or four stone warehouses, huge empty structures, testifying mutely that the town had once had a business. The road to the bridge led through this cleft, down an indescribably steep street skirting the stream's ravine to whose sides the mills and factories clung in most extraordinary fashion ; but it was always a marvel how anything heavier than a wheelbarrow could be pulled up its tedious length, or how any vehicle could be driven down Without plunging into the water at the bottom.
In this odd little borough, then, we were waiting "developments," hearing first that "our men" were coming, and then that they were not coming, when suddenly, on Saturday, the 13th of September, early in the morning, we found ourselves surrounded by a hungry horde of lean and dusty tatterdemalions, who seemed to rise from the ground at our feet. I did not know where they came from, or to whose command they belonged; I have since been informed that General Jackson recrossed into Virginia at Williamsport, and hastened to Harper's Ferry by the shortest roads. These would take him some four miles south of us, and our haggard apparitions were perhaps a part of his force. They were stragglers, at all events,---professional, some of them, but some worn out by the incessant strain of that summer. When I say that they were hungry, I convey no impression of the gaunt starvation that looked from their cavernous eyes. All day they crowded to the doors of our houses' With always the same drawling complaint: " I've been a-marchin' an' a-fight- in' for six weeks stiddy, and I ain't had n-a-r-thin' to eat'cept green apples an' green cawn, an' I wish you'd please to gimme a bite to eat."
Their looks bore out their statements, and when they told us they had "clean gin out," we believed them, and went to get what we had. They could be seen afterward asleep in every fence corner, and under every tree, but after a night's rest they "pulled themselves together" somehow and disappeared as suddenly as they had come. Possibly they went back to their commands, possibly they only moved on to repeat the same tale elsewhere. I know nothing of numbers, nor what force was or was not engaged in any battle, but I saw the troops march past us every summer for four years, and I know something of the appearance of a marching army, both Union and Southern. There are always stragglers, of course, but never before or after did I see anything comparable to the demoralized state of the Confederates at this time. Never were want and exhaustion more visibly put before my eyes, and that they could march or fight at all seemed incredible.
As I remember the next morning---it was Sunday, September 14th---we were awakened by heavy firing at two points on the mountains. We were expecting the bombardment of Harper's Ferry, and knew that Jackson was before it. Many of our friends were with him, and our interest there was so intense that we sat watching the bellowing and smoking Heights' for a long time, before we became aware that the same phenomena were to be noticed in the north. From our windows both points could be observed, and we could not tell which to watch more keenly. We knew almost nothing except that there was fighting, that it must be very heavy, and that our friends were surely in it somewhere, but whether at South Mountain or Harper's Ferry we had no means of discovering. member how the day wore on, how we staid at the Windows until we could not endure the suspense; how we walked about and came back to them; and how finally, when night fell, it seemed cruel and preposterous to go to bed still ignorant of the result.
Monday afternoon, about 2 or 3 o'clock, when we were sitting about in disconsolate fashion, distracted by the contradictory rumors, our negro cook rushed into the room with eyes shining and face working with excitement. She had been down in " de ten-acre lot to pick a few years of cawn," and she had seen a long train of wagons coming up from the ford, and " dey is full of wounded men, and de blood running outen dem dat deep," measuring on her outstretched arm to the shoulder. This horrible picture sent us flying to town, where we found the streets already crowded, the people all astir, and the foremont wagons, of what seemed an endless line, dis- charging their piteous burdens. The scene speedily became ghastly, but fortunately we could not stay tere were no preparations, no accommodations---the men could not be left in the street---what was to be done?
A Federal soldier once said to me, "I was always sorry for your wounded; they never seemed to get any care." The remark was extreme, but there was much justice in it. There was little mitigation of hardship to our unfortunate armies. We were fond of calling them Spartans, and they were but too truly called upon to endure a Spartan system of neglect and privation. They were generally ill-fed and ill-cared for. It would have been possible at this time, one would think, to send a courier back to inform the town and bespeak what comforts it could provide for the approaching wounded; but here they were, unannounced, on the brick pavements, and the first thing was to find roofs to cover them. Men ran for keys and opened the shops, long empty, and the unused rooms; other people got brooms and stirred up the dust of ages; then swarms of children began to appear with bundles of hay and straw, taken from anybody's stable. These were hastily disposed in heaps, and covered with blankets---the soldiers' own, or blankets begged or borrowed. On these improvised beds the sufferers were placed, and the next question was how properly to dress their wounds. No surgeons were to be seen. A few men, detailed as nurses, had come, but they were incompetent, of course. Our women set bravely to work and washed away the blood or stanched it as well as they could, where the jolting of the long rough ride had disarranged the hasty binding done upon the battle-field. But what did they know of wounds beyond a cut finger, or a boil ? Yet they bandaged and bathed, with a devotion that went far to make up for their inexperience. Then there was the hunt for bandages. Every housekeeper ransacked her stores and brought forth things new and old. I saw one girl, in despair for a strip of cloth, look about helplessly, and then rip off the hem of her white petticoat. The doctors came up, by and by, or I suppose they did, for some amputating was done---rough surgery, you may be sure. The women helped, holding the instruments and the basins, and trying to soothe or strengthen. They stood to their work nobly; the emergency brought out all their strength to meet it.
One girl who had been working very hard helping the men on the sidewalks, and dressing wounds afterward in a close, hot room, told me that at one time the sights a last were fearful) so overcame her that she could only stagger to the staircase, where she hung, half conscious, over the banisters, saying to herself, " Oh, I hope if I faint some one will kick me into a corner and let me lie there ! " She did not faint, but went back to her work in a few moments, and through the whole of what followed was one of the most indefatigable and useful. She was one of many; even children did their part.
It became a grave question how to feed so many unexpected guests. The news spread rapidly, and the people from the country neighborhoods came pouring in to help, expecting to stay with friends who had already given up every spare bed and every inch of room where beds could be put up. Virginia houses are very elastic, but ours were strained to their utmost. Fortunately some of the farmers' wives had been thoughtful enough to bring supplies of linen, and some bread and fruit, and when our wants became better known other contributions flowed in; but when all was done it was not enough.
We worked far into the night that Monday, went to bed late, and rose early next morning. Tuesday brought fresh wagon-loads of wounded, and would have brought despair, except that they were accompanied by an apology for a commissariat. Soon more reliable sources of supply were organized among our country friends. Some doctors also arrived, who---with a few honorable exceptions---might as well have staid away. The remembrance of that worthless body of officials stirs me to wrath. Two or three worked conscientiously and hard, and they did all the medical work, except what was done by our own town physicians. In strong contrast was the conduct of the common men detailed as nurses. They were as gentle as they knew how to be, and very obliging and untiring. Of course they were uncouth and often rough, but with the wounded dying about us every day, and with the necessity that we were under for the first few days, of removing those who died at once that others not yet quite dead might take their places, there was no time to be fastidious; it required all our efforts to be simply decent, and we sometimes failed in that.
We fed our men as well as we could from every available source, and often had some difficulty in feeding ourselves. The townspeople were very hospitable, and we were invited here and there, but could not always go, or hesitated, knowing every house was full. I remember once, that having breakfasted upon a single roll and having worked hard among sickening details, about 4 o'clock I turned wolfishly ravenous and ran to a friend's house down the street. When I got there I was almost too faint to speak, but my friend looked at me and disappeared in silence, coming back in a moment with a plate of hot soup. What luxury! I sat down then and there on the front doorstep and devoured the soup as if I had been without food for a week.
It was known on Tuesday that Harper's Ferry had been taken, but it was growing evident that South Mountain had not been a victory. We had heard from some of our friends, but not from all, and what we did hear was often most unsatisfactory and tantalizing. For instance, we would be told that some one whom we loved had been seen standing with his battery, had left his gun an instant to shake hands and send a message, and had then stepped back to positivilian informant had come away for safety, and the smoke of conflict had hidden battery and all from view. As night drew nearer, whispers of a great battle to be fought the next day grew louder, and we shuddered at the prospect, for battles had come to mean to us, as they never had before, blood, wounds, and death.
On the 17th of September cloudy skies looked down upon the two armies facing each other on the fields of Maryland. It seems to me now that the roar of that day began With the light, and all through its long and dragging hours its thunder formed a background to our pain and terror. If we had been in doubt as to our friends' whereabouts on Sunday, there was no room for doubt now. There was no sitting at the windows now and counting discharges of guns, or watching the curling smoke. We went about our work with pale faces and trembling hands, yet trying to appear composed for the sake of our patients, who were much excited. We could hear the incessant explosions of artillery, the shrieking whistles of the shells, and the sharper, deadlier, more thrilling roll of musketry; while every now and then the echo of some charging cheer would come, borne by the wind, and as the human voice pierced that demoniacal clangor we would catch our breath and listen, and try not to sob, and turn back to the forlorn hospitals, to the suffering at our feet and before our eyes, while imagination fainted at thought of those other scenes hidden from us beyond the Potomac.
On our side of the river there were noise, confusion, dust; throngs of stragglers; horsemen galloping about; wagons blocking each other, and teamsters wrangling; and a continued din of shouting, swearing, and rumbling, in the midst of which men were dying, fresh wounded arriving, surgeons amputating limbs and dressing wounds, women going in and out with bandages, lint, medicines, food. An ever-present sense of anguish, dream, pity, and, I fear, hatred---these are my recollections of Antietam.
When night came we could still hear the sullen guns and hoarse, indefinite murmurs that succeeded the day's turmoil. That night was dark and lowering and the air heavy and dull. Across the river innumerable camp-fires were blazing, and we could but too well imagine the scenes that they were lighting. We sat in silence, looking into each other's tired faces. There were no impatient words, few tears; only silence, and a drawing close together, as if for comfort. We were almost hopeless, yet clung with desperation to the thought that we were hoping. But in our hearts we could not believe that anything human could have escaped from that appalling fire. On Thursday the two armies lay idly facing each other, but we could not be idle. The wounded continued to arrive until the town was quite unable to hold all the disabled and suffering. They filled every building and overflowed into the country round, into farm-houses, barns, corn-cribs, cabins,---wherever four walls and a roof were found together. Those able to travel were sent on to Winchester and other towns back from the river, but their departure seemed to make no appreciable difference. There were six churches, and they were all full; the Odd Fellows' Hall, the Freemasons', the little Town Council room, the barn-like place known as the Drill ivate houses after their capacity, the shops and empty buildings, the school-houses,---every inch of space, and yet the cry was for room.
The unfinished Town Hall had stood in naked ugliness for many a long day. Somebody threw a few rough boards across the beams, placed piles of straw over them, laid down single planks to walk upon, and lo, it was a hospital at once. The stone warehouses down in the ravine and by the river had been passed by, because low and damp and undesirable as sanitariums, but now their doors and windows were thrown wide, and, with barely time allowed to sweep them, they were all occupied,--- even the "old blue factory," an antiquated, crazy, dismal building of blue stucco that peeled off in great blotches, which had been shut up for years, and was in the last stages of dilapidation.
On Thursday night we heard more than usual sounds of disturbance and movement, and in the morning we found the Confederate army in full retreat. General Lee crossed the Potomac under cover of the darkness, and when the day broke the greater part of his force---or the more orderly portion of it---had gone on toward Kearneysville and Leetown. General McClellan followed to the river, and without crossing got a battery in position on Douglas's Hill, and began to shell the retreating army and, in consequence, the town. What before was confusion grew worse; the retreat became a stampede. The battery may not have done a very great deal of execution, but it made a fearful noise. It is curious how much louder guns sound when they are pointed at you than when turned the other way ! And the shell, with its long-drawn screeching, though no doubt less terrifying than the singing minie-ball, has a way of making one's hair stand on end. Then, too, every one who has had any experience in such things, knows how infectious fear is, how it grows when yielded to, and how' when you once begin to run, it soon seems impossible to run fast enough; whereas, if you can manage to stand your ground, the alarm lessens and sometimes disappears.
Some one suggested that yellow was the hospital color, and immediately everybody who could lay hands upon a yellow rag hoisted it over the house. The whole town was a hospital; there was scarcely a building that could not with truth seek protection under that plea, and the fantastic little strips were soon flaunting their ineffectual remonstrance from every roof-tree and chimney. When this specific failed the excitement became wild and ungov- ernable. It would have been ludicrous had it not produced so much suffering. The danger was less than it seemed, for McClellan, after all, was not bombarding the town, but the army, and most of the shells flew over us and exploded in the fields; but aim cannot be always sure, and enough shells fell short to convince the terrified citizens that their homes were about to be battered down over their ears. The better people kept some outward coolness, with perhaps a feeling of "noblesse oblige"- but the poorer classes acted as if the town were already in a blaze, and rushed from their houses with their families and household goods to make their way into the country. The road was thronged, the streets blocked; men were vociferating, women crying, children screaming; wagons, ambulances, guns, caissons' horsemen, footmen, all mingled---nand jammed together---in one struggling, shouting mass. The negroes were the worst, and With faces of a ghastly ash-color, and staring eyes' they swarmed into the fields, carrying their babies, their clothes, their pots and kettles, fleeing from the wrath behind them. The comparison to a hornet's nest attacked by boys is not a good one, for there was no "fight" shown; but a disturbed ant-hill is altogether inadequate. They fled widely and camped out of range, nor would they venture back for days.
Had this been all, we could afford to laugh now, but there was another side to the picture that lent it an intensely painful aspect. It was the hurrying crowds of wounded. Ah me ! those maimed and bleeding fugitives ! When the firing commenced the hospitals began to empty. All who were able to pull one foot after another, or could bribe or beg comrades to carry them, left in haste. In vain we implored them to stay; in vain we showed them the folly, the suicide, of the attempt; in vain we argued, cajoled, threatened, ridiculed; pointed out that we were remaining and that there was less danger here than on the road. There is no sense or reason in a panic. The cannon were bellowing upon Douglas's Hill, the shells whistling and shrieking, the air full of shouts and cries; we had to scream to make ourselves heard. The men replied that the "Yankees" were crossing; that the town was to be burned; that we could not be made prisoners, but they could; that, anyhow, they were going as far as they could walk, or be carried. And go they did. Men with cloths about their heads went hatless in the sun, men with cloths about their feet limped shoeless on the stony road; men with arms in slings, without arms, with one leg, with bandaged sides and backs; men in ambulances, wagons, carts, wheelbarrows, men carried on stretchers or supported on the shoulder of some self-denying comrade---all who could crawl went, and went to almost certain death. They could not go far, they dropped off into the country houses, where they were received with as much kindness as it was possible to ask her; but their wounds had become inflamed, their frames were weakened by fright and over-exertion: erysipelas, mortification, gangrene set in; and long rows of nameless graves still bear witness to the results.
Our hospitals did not remain empty. It was but a portion who could get off in any manner, and their places were soon taken by others, who had remained nearer the battle-field, had attempted to follow the retreat, but, having reached Shepherdstown, could go no farther. We had plenty to do, but all that day we went about with hearts bursting with rage and shame, and breaking with pity and grief for the needless, needless waste of life. The amateur nurses all stood firm, and managed to be cheerful for the sake of keeping their men quiet, but they could not be without fear. One who had no thought of leaving her post desired to send her sister a mere child---out of harm's way. She, therefore, told her to go to their home, about half a mile distant, and ask their mother for some yellow cloth that was in the house, thinking, of course, that the mother would never permit the girl to come back into the town. But she miscalculated. The child accepted the commission as a sacred trust, forced her way out over the crowded road, where the danger was to the town itself, reached home, and made her request. The house had its own flag flying, for it was directly in range and full of wounded. Perhaps for this reason the mother was less anxious to keep her daughter with her; perhaps in the hurry and excitement she allowed herself to be persuaded that it was really necessary to get that strip of yellow flannel into Shepherdstown as soon as possible. At all events, she made no difficulty, but With streaming tears kissed the girl, and saw her set out to go alone, half a mile through a panic-stricken rabble, under the fire of a battery and into a town whose escape from conflagration was at best not assured. To come out had been comparatively easy, for she was going with the stream. The return was a different matter. The turbulent tide had now to be stemmed. Yet she managed to work her way along, now in the road, now in the field, slipping between the wagon wheels, and once, at least, crawling under a stretcher. No one had noticed her coming out, she was but one of the crowd; and now most were too busy With their own safety to pay much heed to anything else. Still, as her face seemed alone set toward the town, she attracted some attention. One or two spoke to her. Now it was, "Look-a here, little gal! don't you know you're a-goin' the wrong way?" One man looked at the yellow thing she had slung across her shoulder and said, with an approving nod: "That's right, that's right; save the wounded if ye kin." She meant to do it, and finally reached her sister, breathless but triumphant, with as proud a sense of duty done as if her futile errand had been the deliverance of a city.
I have said that there was less danger than appeared, but it must not be supposed that there was none. A friend who worked chiefly in the old blue factory had asked me to bring her a bowl of gruel that come one had promised to make for one of her patients. I had just taken it to her, and she was walking across the floor with the bowl in her hands, when a shell crashed through a corner of the wall and passed out at the opposite end of the building, shaking the rookery to its foundations, filling the room With dust and plaster, and throwing her upon her knees to the floor. The wounded screamed, and had they not been entirely unable to move, not a man would have been left in the building. But it was found that no one was hurt, and things proceeded as before. I asked her afterward if she was frightened. She said yes, when it was over, but her chief thought at the time was to save the gruel, for the man needed it, and it had been very hard to find any one composed enough to make it. I am glad to be able to say that he got his gruel in spite of bombs. That factory was struck twice. A school-house, full of wounded, and one or two other buildings were hit, but I believe no serious damage was done.
On Saturday morning there was a fight at the ford. The negroes were still encamped in the fields, though some, finding that the town was yet standing, ventured back on various errands during the day. What we feared were the stragglers and hangers-on and nondescripts that circle round an army like the great buzzards we shuddered to see wheeling silently over us. The people were still excited, anticipating the Federal crossing and dreading a repetition of the bombardment or an encounter in the streets. Some parties of Confederate cavalry rode through, and it is possible that a remained drawn up in readiness on one of the hills during the morning, but I remember no large force of troops at any time on that day.
About noon, or a little after, we were told that General McClellan's advance had been checked, and that it was not believed he would attempt to cross the river at once---a surmise that proved to be correct. The country grew more composed. General Lee lay near Leetown, some seven miles south of us, and General McClellan rested quietly in Maryland. On Sunday we were able to have some short church services for our wounded, cut still shorter, I regret to say, by reports that the " Yankees " were crossing. Such reports continued to harass us, especially as we feared the capture of our friends, who would often ride down to see us during the day, but who seldom ventured to spend a night so near the river. We presently passed into debatable land, when we were in the Confederacy in the morning, in the Union after dinner, and on neutral ground at night. We lived through a disturbed and eventful autumn, subject to continual "alarms and excursions," but when this Saturday came to an end, the most trying and tempestuous week of the war for Shepherdstown was over.
Source: Battles and Leaders of the Civil War